ANDOVER, Mass. –- Andover gave it the good old college try, but their archrivals No. 2 Central Catholic dominated the third quarter and shattered the Golden Warriors hope of an upset, winning 61-51 tonight.
“They kept giving us different looks and we were out of wack a little bit,” said Central-Catholic coach Rick Nault. “Trying to get Tyler [Nelson] into the offense, he’s been our leading scorer all year. Tonight, they did a tremendous job on him.”
Andover’s Sam Dowden opened up the game with two free throws and from there until the end of the first half, Andover and Central Catholic would play follow the leader. Tied at 25 late in the second quarter, James Costello made two of his five first quarter free throws to put Andover up 27-25 at the half.
In fact, 13 of Andover’s 27 points in the first half came from the free throw line, the only missing coming on the last of three shots taken by junior guard Max Silveira after being fouled behind the arc.
In the third quarter, the Raiders got busy. Scoring 17 straight points, Central Catholic opened up a substantial lead for the first time in the game, a wound from which Andover could not recover.
“They’re a good team,” said Andover coach David Fazio. “They’re tough man-to-man. They get up in you.”
The Golden Warriors closed out the third quarter down by nine at 45-36, and twice in the fourth quarter they were able to come within eight at 49-41, Central Catholic turned up the heat on defense and would not allow Andover to get within striking distance, remaining undefeated at 7-0.
Going Hard in The Paint… And Behind the Arc: Doug Gemmell scored 22 points, with 15 of those coming from behind the three-point line. Although Gemmell grabbed six rebounds, made two steals and with his wide frame helped to slow down traffic in the lane on defense and take up space on the offensive end, allowing his teammates to out rebound Andover, his stroke from deep was smooth, showcasing a very diverse talent on both ends of the floor.
Four Quarters: Central Catholic won the game, but as the number three team in the state, the defensive showing in the first half was not indicative of their potential. Free throw opportunities that Andover was able to capitalize on in the first quarter kept them in the game, and Central continued to foul the Golden Warriors, allowing them to keep the game close.
In the third and fourth quarter, aggressive and craftier defensive play by Central Catholic kept Andover away from the line (5 opportunities in the second half compared to seven in the first half) and the ball out of the basket to maintain their winning lead.
Doug Gemmell didn’t have an explanation for why the Raiders picked up the defense and how they could manifest that same effort in the first half to definitively put some distance between teams early on, but that doesn’t mean he is not going to focus on it in the future.
“It starts with our defense,” said Gemmell. “We have to come out in the first half, just denying everything. One pass away and help side defense.”