Andover Golden Warriors Boys Basketball '07-'08

Andover cooking behind its selfless leader

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Wednesday, December, 26 By Mike Muldoon
Sports editor

After 20 years as a head coach, Dave Fazio thought he had seen it all. Then he received the text message.

As Fazio recalls, it read: "If you can get a couple guys going instead of me, start them....Thanks, Greg."

That was Greg Cook offering up his hard earned starting position if the Andover High coach thought it would bolster a teammate's confidence.

"That says a lot," said Fazio. "That is unique. Especially nowadays. Everybody wants to be a big piece of the puzzle. He just wants to be a piece of the puzzle."

With the Golden Warriors taking their key from the selfless senior guard, they've gotten off to a surprising 4-0 start, including a big win over a rugged Salem club to advance to the semifinals of the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tourney. Andover boasts an accomplished senior class, but when the votes were tallied, Cook was named the team's sole captain. That's what happens when everybody on the team votes for you.

"There are definitely kids with more talent," said Cook. "It made me thankful. I just give my all. That's all you can ask for."

His all is most profoundly felt on the defensive end. He made Salem star Josh Jones work like a madman to score his 19 points in the 60-45 Golden Warriors victory.

"It means a lot to hold them to 45 points," said Cook, who averages 9.3 points and 2.0 3-pointers a game. "They can play. I take it as a challenge (playing defense). Jones can really score. I did the best I can, then Chris Abreu did, too."

When you play Andover's grueling schedule, there is always a challenge around the corner. Tomorrow night it will likely be junior guard Billy Marsden, a potential All-Scholastic who is averaging 27.0 points for 2-0 Central Catholic.

"You can't give him any looks," explained Cook of his former AAU teammate with the Salem Knights. "If he squares his shoulders and shoots it, it will go in. The way he scores is incredible. He can shoot, he can drive, he can do it all."

Although if he does it against Cook, he will have earned it. "He epitomizes what we try to do," noted Fazio. "He doesn't take any plays off. With heart and desire, he willed himself into the starting lineup."

Andoverites who watched Cook as a young athlete aren't surprised he's enjoying a successful career. But they may have guessed it would be in baseball. As a 5-foot-10 Little Leaguer with the Marlins, he was the proverbial big fish in a small pond, slugging an eye-popping 11 homers (seven regular season, four postseason).

Even though he soon stopped growing, the 5-foot-11 Cook's love was always basketball and he only plays that sport these days.

"I always loved basketball, but I was more talented in baseball," said Cook, who averaged 4.4 points a game last winter and split time with the varsity and JVs as a sophomore. "I just liked basketball more and more."

That love would reach a zenith if the Blue and Gold can slay Central, which is ranked third in Eastern Mass., 10 spots ahead of Andover.

"Any time we play Central, the place goes crazy," said a beaming Cook. "It brings out the best in both teams. They got the best of us a couple times last year, but we are confident no matter who they play. We have seven seniors, so the time is now."

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