WESTFORD, Mass. — The entire regular season has been building up for this moment for the Andover girls basketball team.
The Golden Warriors (22-0) capped off their regular season unscathed after defeating Acton-Boxboro, 63-50, in the championship game of the Grey Ghost Classic at Westford Academy on Tuesday night.
Nicole Boudreau filled the stat sheet with 21 points, nine steals, seven rebounds and five assists to take out the team the Warriors beat in the Div. 1 North finals last season.
The question was asked about the Warriors ability to pull off their third championship in a row immediately following their triumph last year at the DCU Center, and the unquestioned leader of the team was ready to address the so called elephant in the room.
“We know we are going to have a tough battle to try and three-peat,” said Boudreau, who finished as the tournament MVP. “I think we are both mentally and physically ready for it. We are going to take every game as it comes.”
Jim Tildsley doesn’t have to dive too far into his game film from the season to show his team the effort other teams will have in store for the Warriors. The Colonials (13-7) have good size at every position, and are one of the strongest defensive teams in Div. 1. That strength was on display, as they held the Warriors to 19 points in the first half.
Boudreau only had four points on 1-of-11 shooting and the Warriors were 1-for-10 from behind the 3-point line.
“That was very, very physical,” said Tildsley. “I think in the second half we kind of tired them out a bit.”
The three-point shot that was lacking was on display in the second half. As Elizabeth Belanger (25 points, 10 rebounds) was singlehandedly taking care of the offensive output in the third quarter for the Colonials, the shots started to fall for Tildsley’s bunch.
Ally Fazio (10 points) hit two 3-pointers to open up the scoring for the Warriors, and Boudreau finally connected from deep to tie things up at 28.
The Warriors went on a 10-1 run to begin the fourth quarter as Devon Caveney scored six of the points in the run.
Range...Enough Said: If you watch Boudreau shoot before practice when she has the time to take shots from anywhere in the gym, her form never changes.
It doesn’t matter if she’s practicing midrange jumpers or effortlessly practicing shots from halfcourt.
That range was on display again in this one.
Boudreau saw the shot clock winding down, and despite the fact that she was roughly 32-feet away from the basket, she didn’t hesitate with her shot and hit nothing but net to put her trademark on the win as the bucket gave the Warriors a 53-39 victory.
Despite all the missed shots in the first half and the sizeable distance between the hoop and her that would probably make some coaches bite a towel like Jerry Tarkanian, Boudreau has the confidence to take the shot and for the most part make it too.
“My teammates have confidence in me to shoot it wherever I am,” she said. “That helps a lot when everyone is cheering you on to shoot it. If someone says not to shoot it, then you are kind of questioning it. In big time situations when the clock is running down I like to have the ball in my hands and hopefully do something good with it.”
Colonial Defense Solid: For three quarters, the Colonials made life difficult for Boudreau and company from any spot on the floor.
The final score was not indicative of the close game that was going on for 24 minutes, as the two teams were playing a back-and-forth basketball game for the majority of the night. Boudreau was having a hard time shaking free of Abby O’Brien in the first half and the rest of the Colonials did a solid job of closing out on the other Warriors outside threats.
“It was like a four-minute lapse,” said Colonials head coach Kim Landry. “All night we closed out on shooters and there was a short lapse when we didn’t.”