ANDOVER, Kan. (KSNW) — The Andover Central Jaguars are one of the hottest basketball teams in the area, having won five straight games, now ranked eighth in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll for the 5A class.
One reason is the scoring ability of senior guard Kobe Smith, who put up 48 points on January 6 in a blowout win against Maize.
“My shots were falling,” explained Smith. “You know, 19 shots, 79%, you can’t ask for a better game, and just keeping that confidence high allowed me to do what I did.”
“We didn’t really know. He was sharing the ball the whole game,” added Jaguars Senior Center Omar Alsmadi. “He wasn’t taking anything selfish.”
Smith has shown this kind of output before. Last season, he dropped 41 in a tournament at Chanute.
“He’s a kid that puts in the work, he puts in the hours,” said Andover Central Head Boys Basketball Coach Tyler Richardson. “There’s no surprise that he’s had the success that he’s having and then what he had in the game the other night.”
“Last year in the Ralph Miller Classic, I had 41 points, and it was kind of one of those games,” said Smith. “And then, I was a sixth grader, and I actually scored 100 points in a game, so yeah, that was one of those nights too. You know, the 48, everybody is making it a big deal, but it is just part of the game. Good games are going to come and go, but I feel like winning is the big thing that stays.”
But it’s his leadership that has elevated the team this season.
“Last year, we struggled a lot with finding our identity and finding a leader to step up for us,” added Alsmadi. “Kobe just walked in for the first practice this year and said, ‘That’s my role,’ We respected it. He’s proven to us it’s been earned.”
Smith and the Jaguars made it to the KSHSAA Substate Finals a year ago, and while they did return a lot of key players, they were still ranked outside the top 10 to begin this season.
“It can’t help but be eye-popping to know that we weren’t ranked in the top 10,” Smith explained. “That’s just another thing. I’m already so motivated, so that was just another thing to add to the motivation.”
Now, as an experienced Kobe Smith takes the next step as a leader, the team is hoping to take the next step and win a state championship for their school.
“Coming in a game, you know, you can’t fear anything,” Smith said. “As long as you don’t fear anybody, you’re fine.”
“We know we definitely have the talent to win State,” added Alsmadi. “We have the drive to win State. It’s just about trusting each other.”