(Andover MA) “They’re the #1 seed for a reason,” said Newton North coach Mo Hamel afterwards.
The NN coach had just seen her team lose, 56-33, to Andover on Friday night in the Division One Elite Eight.
The Warriors will now face Central Catholic, a familiar Merrimack Valley Conference opponent that they have beaten twice in close games this season.
The Warriors, “came out well,” was the way Coach Alan Hibino described his team’s breakaway first half in tonight’s game.
Hard to argue. Andover scored the first twelve points of the game and the last nine points of the first quarter. The Warriors were off 23-5 after one quarter and the Tigers never recovered.
Coach Hibino, however, described his team’s 33-14 lead at halftime as, “uncomfortable,” for good reason.
“Newton North (24th seed) had been down by nineteen points and eleven points in their two previous tournament games and had come back to win,” he explained.
“We made sure that we focused on the next play and forgot about the lead we had,” Coach Hibino added.
The approach worked in the second half. The Warriors raised their lead to the twenties in the third quarter and held it there in the final quarter.
The Tigers (12-12) had been down before, but this was different. “We’ve dug ourselves holes all year,” said Coach Hamel, “but you can’t beat a good team digging the hole we did tonight.”
The Warriors were able to get inside shots from the get-go. Andover didn’t score from the outside until Ari White did it was a three-pointer 3 ½ minutes into the second period.
The Tigers were determined to keep the ball away from 6-3 Anna Foley but concentrating on denying her opened things up for other Warriors.
Amelia Hanscom (25 points) was the chief capitalizer notching twelve points in just the first quarter. Amelia had eight of the Warriors first fourteen points. Two of her early layups were assisted by Anna Foley.
“They ran their sets so quickly and efficiently,” said Coach Hamel. “We knew what was coming and we were prepared for it, but it didn’t matter.”
The Warriors’ offense started well and so did their defense. A key to their fine beginning was holding the Tigers’ Abby Wright scoreless in that breakaway first quarter.
Credit Marissa Kobelski with some tough defense on the 6-2 NN junior. “It was a physical game,” said Marissa. “Abby is a very good player. It helped me prepare for her because I play against Anna (Foley) every day in practice.”
“Marissa is an amazing defender,” explained teammate Michaela Buckley. “She’s done it through the year for us.”
“We had seen Abby (Wright) have a fantastic game against Chelmsford,” said Coach Hibino afterwards. “We also saw her score thirty on Central Catholic in the Comcast Tournament. She was every bit as good as advertised. It was a team effort against her.”
Despite the heavy pressure Abby did finish with fifteen points and plenty of rebounds.
“We’ve been led by Abigail all year,” said Coach Hamel. “She did what she could out there. We needed some supporting contributions and didn’t get them today.”
Maggie Scanlon was the Tigers second highest scorer with five points.
Anna Foley finished with twelve points getting ten of them in the first half.
Newton North’s best run of offense was early in the second quarter. Maggie Scanlon and Abby Wright tallied layups and Abby converted a rebound.
This streak of scoring put the Tigers within twelve (23-11). Ari White, however followed with a triple (assisted by Anna Foley) and then Anna hit a foul line jumper on an inbounds play.
“We had a lot of people step up in the first half,” said Coach Hibino.
“We came into this year inexperienced and with low expectations from many people,” said Coach Hamel, “but we had a good run.”
“We want to win for our seniors,” said Marissa Kobelski. “We want the longest season possible.”
Plenty of vocal support on hand for both teams. Andover also had an excellent pep band.
Andover 23 10 13 10 = 56
Newton North 5 9 10 9 = 33
(The pictures will enlarge.)