By: Wells Dusenbury
With his team down two late in the game, George Andino knew he had to make a play.
Despite once holding a six-point lead over Berkeley Prep, St. Andrew's saw its dreams of a potential state championship hanging uneasily in the balance.
That's when Andino took over.
With 1:30 to go and the Scots down 44-42, Andino exploded toward the hoop and knocked down a tough fall-away runner, picking up the foul as well to tie the game at 44. Andino drilled the subsequent free throw to give the Scots the lead and they never looked back from there, as they went on to top Berkeley Prep 51-44 in the 4A Regional Finals.
"My teammates trust me and they know I'm going to deliver at the right time when we need a basket, so I came through," said Andino. "I love these boys too much to let them down in this type of game."
That wasn't all Andino did in the waning minutes. The senior scored seven unanswered points in the final 1:30, five of them from the free throw line, to help secure the Scots first trip to Lakeland since 2006.
"George has got to be the most underrated player in this area," said St. Andrew's head coach John O'Connell. "He's been so big all year. [Berkeley Prep] designed a defense to stop him. But they stopped in the 4th quarter."
While Andino's performance wasn't surprising to O'Connell, the play of Asil Kalkavan was more so. Despite suffering ligament damage in his ankle during the Scots' Regional Semifinal win on Tuesday, Kalkavan came off the bench and played crucial minutes in the Scots' Regional Final win.
"Honestly, I didn't think I was going to [play]," said Kalkavan. "But I've been playing with these kids since 8th grade and I didn't want to let them down. I couldn't end my high school career not playing with them one more time."
Kalkavan made a pair of big buckets down the stretch and helped the Scots inside on the boards.
"Asil is far more injured then you can imagine," said O'Connell. "But with this energy in this gym tonight, I'm sure he didn't feel a thing."
"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to use him."
St. Andrew's will make its third ever trip to Lakeland this week as they'll take on East Gadsden in the 4A State Semifinals.
"It's amazing," said O'Connell. "You dream about it. I'm just so happy for this group of kids."
VIDEO: St. Andrew's tops Berkeley Prep
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