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Recap: No. 1 Andover 53, No. 5 Central 42

LAWRENCE, Mass. --- The Andover Golden Warriors put together a strong fourth quarter defensive effort, holding Central Catholic to eight points in the final frame, to earn a 53-42 win. It was the second game between the two schools this season and the first league match-up between the two rival Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 programs.

“Our defense comes off our offense,” said Andover Head Coach Jim Tildsley. “It was just a great defensive effort tonight. Our offense was sloppy but it was also just the intensity of this game. We have not won here in three years so the kids really wanted this one tonight.”

Andover, who also defeated Central Catholic last week in the Greater Lawrence Christmas tournament championship, remained undefeated on the season at 8-0, while Central Catholic drops to 5-2.

Andover led by one point at the end of the first quarter and four points at the half as Central Catholic hung tough behind junior center Casey McLaughlin’s seven point and 10 rebound first half effort.

In the second half, Andover had a couple of opportunities to extend the lead past nine points but Central Catholic fought hard and converted some fast break opportunities to remain close and down by just five points, 39-34, heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter it was 2011 ESPN Boston Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau, who took over as the Andover star hit three 3-pointers and had a nine of Andover’s 14 points in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

“Central Catholic is a great team and we knew that in order to beat them you have to hold off as many runs as they give you,” said Boudreau.

Andover also got strong games on the night from junior Devon Caveney (10 points, two steals), junior guard Angelice Gonzalez (seven points, three steals) and senior co-captain Ally Fazio (seven points, three assists).

Central Catholic sophomore guard Courtney Walsh had eight points and six rebounds to go along with three steals and three assists for the Lady Raiders.

The two teams will meet again on Feb. 17 at Andover.

Boudreau Reigns in Second Half: Boudreau scored a game-high 23 points, pulled down five rebounds, dished out two assists, and had one steal and one blocked shot in the win.

The Boston College commit had eight points in the first half, including a crucial three point play with 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock to give Andover momentum and a 29-25 at the half.

In the second half Boudreau came out firing as the senior hit five 3-pointers, including three in the crucial fourth quarter.

“An inch of space, I like, especially against this team,” said Boudreau. “Luckily a couple of them fell. It was not falling in the first but my teammates trusted me to make them when they counted.”

Boudreau also settled the offense down the stretch and made all four of her free throw attempts on the night.

“When she hits those threes they are just like daggers for the opposition,” said Tildsley. “My kids look for her and she gets open, somehow, and just sticks them.”

The 5-foot-9 guard also took home her third straight Greater Lawrence tournament MVP last week in the win over Central as she scored 19 points to lead the Golden Warriors on the night.

Alois’ Intangibles: Andover junior forward Jackie Alois played an exceptional second half as she helped play tight post defense on McLaughlin and was also all over the floor making countless hustle plays that do not show up on the box scores.

“We did not have Jackie in the whole first half as she got in early foul trouble,” said Tildsley. “She does one heck of a job defensively and is just so aggressive."

Alois had six second half rebounds to go along with two steals and one block.

McLaughlin Improving: The Central Catholic junior co-captain had 16 points, 14 rebounds and one blocked shot in the loss.

“She is a heck of a player,” said Tildsley.

McLaughlin continues to make big strides in her game in her third year with the Lady Raider’s varsity team. She was also named to the Greater Lawrence Christmas all tournament team last week along with Walsh, Fazio and Boudreau.