(Lawrence MA) What a game!
#4 Andover ends up the winner, 86-79, in double overtime over #5 Lawrence on Saturday afternoon in the Division 1 North quarterfinals.
Don’t let that final score fool you. Once Lawrence rallied all the way back from a fourteen point deficit (48-34) late in the third quarter this one entered the anyone’s game realm.
There were big shots all over the place and some of them potential game winners. Julio Vicente (20 points) of Lawrence had the last shot in regulation and missed. David Garibaldi (12 points) had the same opportunity for Andover at the end of the first overtime but also missed.
The big shot from the floor turned up regularly but in the decisive second OT it was the shooting from the line by Andover that made the difference. After Franziel Reyes (10 points) tied the score at 74-74 with 2:18 left, the Warriors shot nothing but free throws (fourteen) the rest of the way and clutched twelve of them. Lawrence during the same stretch was 2-for-7 from the foul line missing the front end of two one-and-one’s (Julio Vicente & Dantae Neal) as well as several 3-point attempts to seal their fate.
Senior Connor Merinder (29 points) had a huge game for Andover. Connor at 6-5 held his own on the inside against 6-9 Franziel Reyes and stayed out of foul trouble. Connor also hit the last successful shot in regulation with thirteen seconds left that enabled Andover to reach overtime.
Fouls were an issue for Lawrence. 5-8 point guard Julio Vicente missed playing time after getting his 3rd foul with two minutes left in the first half and then adding his 4th with two minutes left in the third quarter. Eventually, LHS coach Raymond Nunez was forced to play Julio 4 fouls or not late in the game and it paid off.
The Lancers lost speedy guard Chen Chen on fouls with 1 ½ minutes left in regulation.
Lawrence led early (9-4) but the visitors put a 12-2 run together (three hoops by Connor Merinder) to lead 16-11 late in the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Warriors put an 11-3 segment together highlighted by sophomore EJ Perry’s (22 points) 3-pointer to gain an 35-26 advantage with 1 ½ minutes until halftime.
The Warriors’ lead would extend to 48-34 before the Lancers put a serious rally together in the final quarter.
The crowds for both schools fit nicely into the Sixth Man category. The Lancers seemed to ride the crowd wave down the stretch as they got closer and closer. When Lawrence took the lead late in regulation you sensed that the Lancers might get the job done but two free throws and Connor Merinder’s basket offset a jumper by Dantae Neal (19 points) and overtime happened.
The end of the first overtime was about as exciting as it gets. Andover was up by two with the ball and close to a minute left but EJ Perry got caught going behind his back and Lawrence had a steal for two to tie the game with thirty seconds left. Andover chewed up a lot of clock before Jonathan Rodriguez drained a three with twelve seconds left. Game-winner? Not yet. Julio Vicente found daylight down the other end and sent the game into a second OT with a three of his own.
Jonathan Rodriguez (13 points) would also notch a 3-pointer and four free throws in the second overtime.
Andover moves on to face top-seed Cambridge Ringe and Latin (19-2) on Wednesday night at North Andover at 7PM.
Andover and Lawrence are from the Merrimack Valley Conference. They split their two regular-season games.
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