Category Archives: Andover

Springfield Central takes D1 girls state title 43-40 over Andover

Springfield Central hangs on to get Division 1 state title
Amany Lopez (16 points)

(Lowell) Andover didn’t score a point in the first 5 ½ minutes of the game.

Springfield Central didn’t score a point in the last 5 ½ minutes of the game.

Were they both flirting with disaster?  You bet.

But that’s how it went in the girls Division 1 state finals between Andover and Springfield Central on Sunday at the Tsongas Center.

Springfield Central prevailed, 43-40.

The Eagles (21-1) had to hold their collective breaths at the end as the Warriors (21-2) had several possessions to earn a tie in the closing seconds.

Possible Andover tying three on the way from the corner late in the game.

“I thought that we had a good look on the second-to-last possession (three from the left corner),” said Andover coach Alan Hibino afterwards.

Anna Foley (22 points)

“I also thought that the last shot was going to fall,” he added. “It was right on line, just a little short.”

Springfield Central put on a basketball clinic for the first nine minutes.  They scored from the inside and outside (four 3’s) as well as defending Andover into mistakes and missed shots.

Before the Warriors could put a stop to this avalanche of misfortune, the Eagles had a 24-2 lead one minute into the second quarter.

The finish of the first quarter was incredibly exhilarating for Springfield Central.  Near to a shot-clock violation, Jordyn Robinson drained a three with four seconds left.  Andover almost immediately committed a violation setting SC up for a final, long-range desperation heave by Amany Lopez.  In it went as the buzzer sounded.  That’s six points in four seconds!

Amany Lopez’s first quarter buzzer beater on the way
Julie Bahati up for a rebound

“Their pressure, length, speed, and athleticism were hard for us to simulate in practice,” explained Coach Hibino.  “I knew that in the game we would have to adjust to it, but I didn’t imagine it would take the first ten minutes to do it.”

The terrible start had Andover fast approaching the “Warm up the bus,” and/or “It’s all over” scenarios but they managed to stop the downward slide and make a game of it.

“We were resilient,” said Coach Hibino.  “The team never lost hope.”

The rest-of-the game math will tell you that Andover outscored Springfield Central 38-19 from that 24-2 start.

Amany Lopez breaks in

The Warriors were methodical (one 3-pointer) in their chase for the lead.  Anna Foley registered twenty-two points during the comeback.

Springfield Central coach James Gee said afterwards that fouls were a factor.  “We got called for a lot of fouls in the second quarter.  It slowed our game down and our aggressiveness.”

Andover tightened the game at halftime to 28-15.  Morgan Shirley hit a jump shot and Anna Foley added three free throws for the Warriors in the last 1 ½ minutes.

Tess Gobiel and Jordis Taulatatasi

Andover lessened the Springfield Central lead to 39-30 after three quarters.  Anna Foley finished the last minute with a traditional 3-point play and a jump shot.

The Eagles seemed to regather themselves early in the final quarter.  Junior Amany Lopez turned a steal into a layup and seconds later broke in for another layup. 

Springfield Central now led 43-30 with 5 ½ minutes left.  Shockingly, they would never score again but be able to hold on and win the D1 championship.

“We had some tough battles in the state tournament that prepared us,” said Coach Gee.  “We were down by eleven at halftime in one of them.  We’re used to fighting and battling.”

Marissa Kobelski

Andover scored ten straight points over the next five minutes to get within three points (43-40) with 1 ½ minutes left.  Marissa Kobelski, Amelia Hanscom, Michaela Buckley, and Ann Foley all contributed.

But that was the best Andover could do. 

Springfield Central missed front ends of two one-and-one’s in the final thirty seconds to give Andover extra opportunities.

“We got it down to one possession, but they made a couple more plays at the end,” said Coach Hibino.

“As coach told us, sometimes you dig a hole too deep and even if you fight back there isn’t enough time to get fully out of it,” said junior Amelia Hanscom post-game.

Tie up

“These girls have been wanting this so bad,” said Coach Gee.  “This is what we’ve been talking about all season.”

Junior Amany Lopez led the Eagles with sixteen points including the teams last four points in the final quarter.  She had steals and deflections and didn’t turn the ball over.

“Amany loves to make the big shot,” said Coach Gee.  “She’s not scared of it.  She wants to do it for her team.”

“Winning feels so good right now,” said Amany.  “Playing AAU I’m used to playing against tough competition.  We thought that their weakness might be dribbling so we played good tight defense.  We came together as a team in the close moments at the end.”

Anna Foley blocks

The Eagles finished the season with nineteen straight wins.

The Warriors did themselves no favors at the foul line making just nine of twenty attempts.  Several of the misses were front ends of one-and-one’s. 

“This one will sting for a few days but then we’ll move on,” concluded Coach Hibino.  “Life goes on.”

Both teams return most of their players for next year.  Could there be a rematch next March?

Springfield Central     20    8    11     4   =   43

                  Andover       2   13   15   10   =   40

(The pictures will enlarge.)    


Game ending
Michaela Buckley pressures Amany Lopez as Coach Gee watches
Amany Lopez jumps into a passing lane
Michaela Buckley and Jordyn Robinson
Amany Lopez alone in the corner
Rebound battle
Amelia Hanscom (9 points)
Amany Lopez over Michaela Buckley
Springfield Central box
Andover box

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Andover reaches D1 Final Four with 56-33 win over Newton North

Captains Hailey Doherty, Tess Gobiel, and Morgan Shirley with trophy
Amelia Hanscom (25 pts)

(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.

Abby Wright (15 points)

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.

Michaela Buckley heads to the hoop

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.

Andover coach Alan Hibino

“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 Kobelski defends

“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.

Tigers’ coach Mo Hamel

“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. 

Anna Foley drives

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.”

Freshman Devon Burke

“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.)

Andover box
Newton North box
Andover bench celebration
Sophia Beatrice sees an opening
Amelia Hanscom and Abby Wright
Battle for a rebound
Nadia Briggs and Michaela Buckley
Denying a pass
Abby Wright and Anna Foley
Tess Gobiel and Abby Wright
Andover reaches the Final Four

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Gia Bramanti’s big final quarter leads Andover past Masco 45-41

Plenty of tough defense on display

Gia Bramanti (19 points) was huge in the final quarter for Andover

(Boxford MA) Andover’s Gia Bramanti came alive in the final four minutes and led the Warriors to a, 45-41, win over Masco on Sunday afternoon.

“Gia is a special player,” said Masco coach Bob Romeo afterwards. “Great players find ways to make big shots.”

Who could argue?  The 6-1 senior shouldered the scoring load for AHS after Tatum Shaw’s 3-pointer put the Warriors close, 35-34, with 3:48 left in the non-league contest.

In the next 2+ minutes, Gia put five points on either side of a Morgan Bovardi triple and the visitors pushed ahead, 44-38, with 1:39 remaining.  Masco had enough possessions thereafter to catch up, but the Andover defense wouldn’t allow it.

Gia Bramanti in the lane

“Gia made the big plays when she had to,” said Warriors’ coach Alan Hibino.  “She wasn’t surprised by the moment.  She wants the ball in those situations.”

Gia paced the Warriors with nineteen points.  Morgan Bovardi led Masco with seventeen points.

The defense for both sides was tenacious.  Open shots vanished after warmups.  “Our kids played hard on defense,” said Coach Romeo.  “There was nothing easy for either team.  Andover is used to it every night in the Merrimack Valley Conference.  We don’t see it as often in the Cape Ann League.”

Gia Bramanti turned out to be the shooting star at the end but for almost three quarters the Masco defensive combo of Marissa DeLucia and Cally McSweeney limited her to six points.  But then in the final seconds of the 3rd quarter, Gia drained her first three as the quarter ended tied at 29-29.

Shea Krekorian (2) made shooting difficult for Mak Graves (3)

This game had six ties and six lead changes.

The Chieftains (10-4) went up by seven (21-14) in the second quarter, eight (24-16) in the 3rd, and six (35-29) early in the final quarter.  Sophomore Morgan Bovardi (17 points) had a part in each of the Masco point surges.

Andover, however, was always able to put streaks of offense together and recover. They put eight straight in place in the third (two drives Taylor Landry, free throw Gia, triple Tatum Shaw) and ten unanswered in the fourth (two free throws Sarah Sullivan, triple Tatum Shaw, triple & layup Gia Bramanti).

A key to the Warriors’ win?  The defensive job junior Shea Krekorian did on Masco’s top scorer, Mak Graves.  Mak averages fourteen points per game and had two 3’s in the first quarter and a layup in the first two minutes of the second quarter.  After that?  Nothing.

“We’ve seen them (Masco) play a couple of times,” said AHS coach Alan Hibino.  “Mak is the engine that makes them go.  Shea Krekorian did a nice job on her.”

Morgan Bovardi (17 points) takes on three Andover defenders

The Warriors showed a zone defense in the last quarter.  Normally Masco’s shooters make that into a bad idea.  “Our shooters can make outside shots but Mak and Morgan need space and their defenders had length,” said Coach Romeo.

“I have no regrets on our level of effort,” added Coach Romeo.  “Andover averages close to 70 points per game.  Our kids played so hard on defense.”

Coach Hibino expected a tough game. “Coach Romeo reached out to us this summer to play this game.  It’s nice to go out of conference and play an opponent of Masco’s caliber.  Mak and Morgan are fantastic players.”

Gia Bramanti: “It was hard work out there.  Masco is very good.  Their two guards are definitely going to play in college if they want to.”

Hard screen

Andover’s thirteen wins give them more wins than any other team in Division 1 North.  Masco, also in D1, has already qualified for the post-season.  Plenty of D1 coaches in the crowd getting a look at two possible tournament opponents.

I asked Gia about her plans for next year: “I am looking to do a post-graduate year.  I haven’t really decided where yet.”

Regarding her late-game heroics Gia said, “It always feels great when I can connect.  It was when it really mattered.  The adrenalin kicked in and I knew that I had to make a few shots.”

Taylor Landry scored ten for Andover and Tatum Shaw added eight including two 3’s.

Paige Richardson and Mak Graves each had eight for Masconomet.

Andover box

Masco box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Olivia Fillmore (24) shoots

Paige Richardson defends Taylor Landry

Saran Sullivan (22) gets into the lane

Taylor Landry (10 points) breaks in

Cally McSweeney guards Gia Bramanti

Floor pass

Mak Graves covers Taylor Landry




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Isaiah McLeod (35 points) leads Cambridge Rindge and Latin past Andover 78-62 in the D1 North semifinals

Isaiah McLeod (35 points) stroked early and often in the first half

Isaiah McLeod (35 points) stroked early and often in the first half

Isaiah McLeod soars above the Andover defense getting sixteen points in the first quarter

Isaiah McLeod soars above the Andover defense getting sixteen points in the first quarter

(North Andover MA) Isaiah McLeod (35 points) had a dazzling first half and set Cambridge Rindge & Latin up for a 78-62 D1 North semifinal win over Andover on Wednesday night at North Andover High School.

The Falcons (20-2) now meet St. John’s Prep at the Tsongas Center on Saturday (7:45PM) for the D1 North title.

Senior Isaiah McLeod had a first half (25 points) in which shots from everywhere were dropping.  Layups, jump shots, 3-pointers, and foul shots, you name it, he hurt the Warriors from them all.

The Falcons never trailed.  The Warriors (17-6) were only down 8-6 after an EJ Perry old-fashioned 3-point play after less than two minutes.

EJ Perry shoots from long range

EJ Perry shoots from long range

Isaiah, however, took over the next 2 ½ minutes as Cambridge ran thirteen unanswered points.  Isaiah had ten of them including two 3’s.  Now down fifteen (21-6) the Warriors unsuccessfully played catch-up the rest of the way.

Andover was down but the out part took a little more doing for the Falcons.

Cambridge was up by twenty (40-20) with less than two minutes left in the second half but three’s by David Giribaldi and Jonathan Rodriguez plus a Connor Merinder layup narrowed the Andover deficit to twelve (40-28) at halftime.

Seniors David Garibaldi (19 points) and Connor Merinder (22 points) caught fire together in the third quarter and suddenly Andover was within six (44-38) with 2+ minutes left in the quarter.

But that Andover momentum came to a stop as Demitrius Woodson (just off the bench) drained a three from the right corner on an inbounds play.

Tevin Charles (15 points) hits a big 3rd quarter 3-pointer in front of the Andover student section

Tevin Charles (15 points) hits a big 3rd quarter 3-pointer in front of the Andover student section

On Cambridge’s next possession Tevin Charles duplicated the three-spot from the other corner.  Tevin had all fifteen of his points in the second half.  Back down by twelve went Andover.

The Warriors would get within eight a couple of times early in the final quarter but the combo of fatigue and persistent Cambridge offense never let them get closer.  The nail in the coffin was at 2 ½ minute mark when Andover senior inside presence Connor Merinder fouled out.

The Falcons ended up with eight 3-pointers including five in the breakaway first quarter.

I don’t know how many three’s Andover took but there were plenty of them.  Their long-range insistence turned costly in the first half as their inaccuracy allowed Cambridge to build up a big lead.

Connor Merinder (22 points)

Connor Merinder (22 points)

Connor Merinder showed a nice baby hook inside that Cambridge struggled to defend.

Isaiah McLeod is committed to Southern Connecticut State in New Haven.  When a good player like Isaiah has it going from anywhere he chooses there isn’t a defense that can stop him.  Andover ran a bunch of players at him but nothing worked in the first half.  St. John’s better have something prepared for #1 or they’ll be in serious trouble at the Tsongas Center on Saturday.

Cambridge coach Lance Dottin won his 300th game in December.

The Falcons two losses have been to out-of-state teams – Albany Academy and Archbishop Molloy.

Cambridge is in the Dual County (Large) League.  Andover hails from the Merrimack Valley Conference.

Where does the “Rindge” part of Cambridge Rindge and Latin come from?  Generous Frederich Hastings Rindge was connected to the school in the late 1800’s.

No sign of Cambridge alum Mayor Bill DeBlasio of NYC at the game.

Cambridge box

Andover box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Connor Merinder draws a charge on Kakigh Dottin

Connor Merinder draws a charge on Kakigh Dottin

Eric Smith-Sokol and Ryan OConnell

Eric Smith-Sokol and Ryan OConnell

David Giribaldi (19 points)

David Giribaldi (19 points)

Isaiah McLeod passes to teammate Tevin Charles as Connor Merinder defends

Isaiah McLeod passes to teammate Tevin Charles as Connor Merinder defends

EJ Perry looks to block

EJ Perry looks to block

Isaiah McLeod had three 3-pointers in the breakway first quarter

Isaiah McLeod had three 3-pointers in the breakway first quarter

Isaiah McLeod afterwards

Isaiah McLeod afterwards


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Andover takes out Lawrence 86-79 in double OT in D1 North quarterfinals

Julio Vicente (20 points) drives on EJ Perry (22 points)

Julio Vicente (20 points) drives on EJ Perry (22 points)

David Giribaldi launches the potential game winner at the end of the first OT

David Giribaldi launches the potential game winner at the end of the first OT

(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.

Andover made 31-of-37 free throws

Andover made 31-of-37 free throws

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.

Chen Chen in the lane

Chen Chen in the lane

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.

Connor Merinder (29 points) defends 6-9 Franziel Reyes

Connor Merinder (29 points) defends 6-9 Franziel Reyes

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.

Andover box

Lawrence box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

jump ball

jump ball

Dontae Neal (19 points) shoots in traffic

Dontae Neal (19 points) shoots in traffic

Jonathan Rodriguez (#35), EJ Perry (#4), and Andy Henriquez (#15) battle for a rebound

Jonathan Rodriguez (#35), EJ Perry (#4), and Andy Henriquez (#15) battle for a rebound

Julio Vicente gets off a three in OT

Julio Vicente gets off a three in OT

David Giribaldi throws a fancy pass

David Giribaldi throws a fancy pass

EJ Perry gets a facial

EJ Perry gets a facial

Franziel Reyes shoots inside

Franziel Reyes shoots inside


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Andover stays undefeated….barely with 53-52 win over Billerica in girls basketball

Nicole Boudreau (23 points) also blocked shots in the Andover win.

Billerica was hurt by missed free throws (four) in the last 1 1/2 minutes of this close game.

(Andover) The undefeated (13-0) Andover Golden Warriors got their first taste of a close game this season and hung on to defeat the Billerica Indians, 53-52, in front of a good crowd at AHS on Thursday night.

Andover, led by Nicole Boudreau (23 points), put their points up in bunches nailing ten long ones.  Nicole connected on six triples.

The resiliency of the Indians (11-2) was impressive.  The Warriors hit them with a 14-3 run in the second period and they trailed, 26-15.  In the fourth period it was a 13-2 run that had them trailing, 53-46. But they rallied back both times.

While Andover relied heavily on an outside game, the Indians did their damage inside.  Of their eighteen baskets, sixteen were from in close.

Down 26-15, just 2 ½ minutes into the second quarter, it appeared that Billerica was on its way to losing badly.  (Andover had won its first twelve games by an average of twenty-two points.)  But the Indians followed with a 23-9 segment and had a 38-35 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.  Three old-fashioned 3’s by Joslyn King (14 points), Danielle Nickerson (9 points), and Kayla Leverone (10 points) were highlights in the Billerica comeback.

Early in the final quarter, a well-executed inbounds play turned up Billerica’s only successful triple (Kayla Leverone) and the visitors had their biggest lead (44-40) of the game and had their fans sensing the upset.

Angelice Gonzales – scored the winning basket after stealing an inbounds pass

But this is two-time D1 defending state champs Andover were talking about.  Big crowds.  Big games.  Been there…done it.  That’s why the 13-2 response they put together wasn’t surprising.  The long ones played a part (two by Ally Fazio & one by Nicole Boudreau), as did two free throws (Nicole).  But the biggest basket of the game, in fact, the actual game winner, was a “pick-two” by junior Angelica Gonzales (6 points) with four minutes left that put the Warriors ahead, 53-46.

The last four minutes of the game were all Billerica and you’re about to find out how close they came to actually winning this one.

First of all, the last two points Billerica scored were on a putback by Joslyn King at the buzzer.  Andover wasn’t exactly trying to stop her from getting two points because they had a 3-point lead.  Their worry was the game-tying attempt by Brittany Lomanno (8 points) just before that.

That last-second Joslyn basket would have truly meant something if the Indians had not missed four of eight free throws in the last 1 ½ minutes.  Shannon Hughes, Danielle Nickerson, and Kayla Leverone each had crucial misses.  Danielle’s was the toughest because she actually made hers but stepped over the line too quickly to go after a possible miss.

Joslyn King (6-1?) did a great job of discouraging Andover inside attempts, although the Warriors seemed very content to fire from downtown.

Nicole Boudreau had several blocks and a few others that looked like blocks but turned out to be fouls.

Ally Fazio – two big triples in the final quarter

Ally Fazio (6 points) took three quarters to hone in from the outside.  She had a number of air balls but never stopped shooting.  The two she made in the final quarter were huge.

Andover threw heavy defensive pressure at Billerica especially in the backcourt.  I thought that the Indians did a pretty good job breaking it and going on for layup attempts.

The only loss Billerica had prior to tonight was against Pentucket.  The Sachems are swarming full-court defenders with a love of the long shot.

There is an Andover/Billerica rematch on February 14th at Billerica.  That should be a good take!

It is common knowledge that Nicole will be playing for Boston College next season.  What I also learned about her was that she carries a 4.0 GPA and is the defending junior champion at Andover Country Club.

Andover box score

Billerica box score

(The pictures above and below will enlarge significantly if you click on them.)

Nicole Boudreau blocks Danielle Nickerson

tight defense?

Danielle Nickerson

Nicole Boudreau double-teamed

Joslyn King (14 points)

Jackie Alois layup

Brittany Lomanno

Nicole Boudreau triple as BHS coach Chris Doneski watches

Kayla Leverone and Devon Caveney

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Middle Innings’ Explosion Big in Beverly’s Win Over Andover 8-1 in D1 North Softball

Ashley Chalifour (#4) backs up third and prevents a run in the Andover first. At the bat, Ashley had three hits and drove in three runs.

Beverly celebrates victory at dusty Innocenti Park.

(Beverly) The Beverly Panthers exploded in the fourth and fifth innings and defeated the Andover Warriors, 8-1, in the preliminary round of the Division 1 North softball tournament on Friday afternoon.

The game was played at dusty Innocenti Field in Beverly on a sunny, breezy afternoon.

#16 seed Beverly (12-9) advances to the first round with the victory and gets to play #1 seed Chelmsford (19-1) at Chelmsford on Monday afternoon at 3:30 PM.

Enough of the potential bad news ahead.  The good news for Beverly was the way they played in this game, especially in the 4th and 5th.  Andover entered the 4th a run up but when those innings were over they trailed, 8-1.

Aimee McKenna (#2) chases Alex Coults (#8) around second in Beverly’s four-run 5th.

The Panthers batted around in both innings and collected ten hits.  They also benefited from two Warrior miscues.

The bottom of the Beverly batting order was huge.  Kate Silvestri, Natalie Shea, Jen Ashton, and Ashley Chalifour were a combined eight-for-eleven, drove in seven runs, and scored four runs.

In fact, everyone in the Panther starting lineup, except Monica Cassola, had hits.

Jen Powers started for #17 seed Andover (10-11) and cruised 1-2-3 through the first two innings.  In the third, the first three Panthers reached but Jen escaped by retiring the next three batters.

In the 4th, a Jen Ashton sacrifice fly tied the score and was the second out of the inning.  However, Ashley Chalifour followed with a 2-run single up the middle.  Later in that inning Ashley was driven home by Erin Silvestri’s single to left.

In the 5th, Aimee McKenna’s double put runners on second and third.  Kate Silvestri drove in the two of them with a triple.  Jen Ashton followed with a triple to drive in Kate and later Ashley Chalifour’s single delivered Jen.

Nicole Ericson singled and later scored Andover’s only run in the first inning.

Andover arrived late (Beverly traffic) but started hitting right away.  Nicole Ericson hit a hard single to right in the first inning that got by Hannah Pitman for a 2-base error.  Shannon Tully followed with a long triple over center fielder Jen Ashton’s head.  The triple drove in Nicole with the only run the Warriors would get.

On that triple, there was a high throw to third. However, left fielder Ashley Chalifour alertly backed up third and prevented a second run from scoring by catching the overthrow.

Andover ended up with eight hits for the game with Dina Hagigeorges leading their attack with two hits.

The Warriors stranded ten runners.  They were also unable to take advantage of four Beverly errors over the last four innings.

Beverly had errors by 3B Monica Cassola and 2B Natalie Shea in the seventh after two were out to load the bases but shortstop Erin Silvestri’s seventh assist prevented any runs from scoring.

There were several excellent fielding plays in the game.  Beverly catcher Jenna LoVasco made a nice catch on a foul pop.  Andover second baseman Molly Awiszus went a long way to get a foul pop outside the first baseline.

The middle of Beverly’s double play in the fifth inning.

Most memorable play?  Watching Beverly turn a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth.  It went Erin Silvestri to Natalie Shea to Kate Silvestri.

(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I apologize in advance for any mistakes made on my part.)

Rachel Willwerth – complete game winner

Jen Powers – Andover starter

Nicole Ericson reaches in the 7th

Meg Leary out at first in the first. Mariah Dodd takes throw.

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Andover Girls Defeat Amherst For Second Straight Division One Title

Andover Warriors (2010-11 State Girls Division 1 Champs)

Andover girls rush to celebrate second straight title.

Nicole Boudreau removes her game-face during the closing seconds.

Senior Natalie Gomez-Martinez ends her career with a state title.

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Andover Defeated by Central Catholic Buzzer Beater 59-56

Joe Bramanti (22 points) applies some defense to Jaycob Morales.

Jaycob Morales (10 points) hit the last-second, 3-pointer to give Central Catholic the win.

(Andover) Jaycob Morales hit a three in the 3rd quarter to put an end to an 18-point Andover run and topped that shot with a game-winner in the 4th at the buzzer to give Central Catholic (17-1) a 59-56 victory on Thursday night at Andover High School.

Jaycob’s three climaxed a game that both teams seemed to have taken control of a couple of times.

Andover’s Craig Luschenat (13 points) tied the game (56-56) with a three from the right corner with 56 seconds left.  The teams then swapped missed shots setting the stage for the Raiders with 12.5 seconds to go.

You suspected that CC coach Rick Nault might set Jimmy Zenevitch (26 points) up in close for at least some foul shots or maybe have a drive to the basket from Luis Puello (13 points) or Jaycob Morales (10 points).  You knew that whatever CC did, it would be done late so that Andover couldn’t respond if there was a miss.

The “late part” went as expected.  The Raiders, however, stayed outside and when Jaycob’s final shot, from just to the left of the top of the circle, went through the net there wasn’t even time for Andover to get the ball inbounds.

Despite the fact that Central Catholic had already clinched the Merrimack Valley title the tone in this one was at the post-season, tournament-final level.  There was plenty of vocal support from the two team’s student sections and plenty of crowd-pleasing action to watch. The teams had split the two previous meetings.

Jimmy Zenevitch (26 points) puts up a free throw in the 4th quarter that tied the score.

CC was by far the better team in the first half.  Despite an unseemly twelve turnovers, they frequently got the ball into 6-7 Jimmy Zenevitch’s hands for high percentage shots.  They shot nearly 50% in the first half.

Andover had Joe Bramanti (“The Brama Bull”) bring the ball into the frontcourt on almost every possession.  He delivered twelve points but there never was an easy attempt.  Having Luis Puello chasing him everywhere he went factored into his struggles early on.  Andover trailed 27-20 at halftime.

It was obvious that Andover had zero chance of winning if the second half was a repeat of the first.  I don’t know what was said at halftime but the Golden Warrior team played a third quarter that was remarkable under any conditions.  Played against the #2 Division 1 team in the state and it was indeed something special.

Luis Puello (13 points) defends Joe Bramanti.

Andover went from trailing 27-20 to leading 38-27 in about 6 ½ minutes.  That’s a nifty eighteen unanswered points! You never saw such a turnaround.  The Raiders missed two free throws, eight shots from the floor, and committed seven turnovers during this ugly (for them) segment.  Joe Bramanti (8), Brian Salvesen (4), Craig Luschenat (4), and Jack Kieckhafer(2) all contributed points for the Golden Warriors.

You watched the onslaught and had to start thinking that Andover, with a 42-31 lead after three quarters, was on their way to a W.  It didn’t turn out that way.

The 4th quarter started and instantly it’s CC that can’t miss and Andover begins to struggle to score.  In three minutes and fifteen seconds the Golden Warriors squandered their entire eleven-point lead thanks to a 17-3 run by the Raiders.  Jimmy Zenevitch came alive with two layups and two old-fashioned 3-point plays.  Jaycob Morales hit his second of three 3’s in this comeback segment for Central Catholic.

With 4:44 to go and a 48-44 lead it looked as if CC was ready to roll to victory but credit Andover for fighting back.  Despite missing three free throws, the team rode slashes to the basket by James Costello and Jack Kieckhafer, and the last-minute three by Craig Luschenat, to a tie score before Jaycob Morales’ last-second heroics.

Luis Puello scored thirteen points but it was his defense that was noticeable.  He made Joe Bramanti work hard for his 22 points.  Luis picked up his 4th foul with five minutes left but managed not to foul out and also to continue to play great defense.

Joel Berroa scored only four points for CC but he set up Jimmy Zenevitch for a number of layups with his passes.

Joe Bramanti struggled with his outside shooting and had to face shot-blockers when he drove.  Still he managed 22 points.  His defense was impressive to watch against Luis Puello and also Jaycob Morales.

Coaches from St.John’s Prep and Lynn English were in the house.  Central Catholic plays at St. John’s on February 23rd.  Lynn English is in a tournament at Central Catholic starting Sunday and could face CC in the finals.

Seniors were honored before the game.

The Raiders have now won thirteen straight.

Andover (13-4) defeated North Andover earlier this week.

Luis Puello shoots over Jack Kieckhafer in front of the Golden Warrior student section.

The student sections created so much noise that you never heard individual voices.  The cheerleaders from both teams performed stunts that looked dangerous to this reporter.

(I collect my own stats and take my own pictures.  I also draw my own conclusions.  Mistakes are unintentional.)

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