Andover Golden Warriors Girls Basketball '07-'08

New Bedford stands in Andover's way

  • Currently 0.0 with 0 votes.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Monday, March, 10 By Alan Siegel
Staff writer

Mickey Gonsalves learned a lot from Andover's Jim Loscutoff. The burly ex-Celtic, Gonsalves' coach at Boston State from 1975 to 1977, displayed a surprising duality on the bench.

"He was a gentle man," Gonsalves said. "But if you struck a nerve, wow, he could be intimidating."

The 6-foot-2 off-guard ended up transferring to Framingham State, where he scored 1,005 points over two seasons. The training Gonsalves received from Loscutoff | in toughness, fearlessness and guts | never left.

Three decades later, Gonsalves' girls basketball team at New Bedford has taken on his personality. The Division 1 South champion Whalers (19-5) will face North champion Andover (22-3) in the Eastern Massachusetts final tomorrow (7:45 p.m.) at TD Banknorth Garden.

"Everybody had us in the Garden," said Gonsalves, a New Bedford native who attended Holy Family High. "But you have to go out and prove it."

New Bedford proved its mettle by winning its South quarterfinal, semifinal and final games by a combined 11 points.

"They've play so many pressure-packed games," Gonsalves said of his players. "It doesn't faze them anymore."

The Whalers have been doing it with something Loscutoff was never known for: Speed.

The Bridgewater State-bound duo Stephanie Houtman (10.0 points per game) and Shelly Depina (12.0 ppg) key New Bedford's lightning-quick, man-to-man-full-court press. "We want to run hard and tire the other team out before we get tired," Houtman said.

The Golden Warriors, who shredded Central Catholic's press Saturday, are tough to rattle. With talented freshman point guard Natalie Gomez-Martinez, and senior guards Laura Renfro, Meghan Thomann around, the Whalers have a tough task ahead.

They'll be aided by three talented freshmen of their own; starting forward Arielle Gomes, and reserve guards Torie Manny and Alyssa Roach.

"They're all great players," said Gonsalves, who returned all but one player from last year's club which fell in the South semifinals. "We wouldn't be anywhere without them."

Like Andover, a lack of size | Gomes, the Whalers' tallest player, is 5-11 | hasn't hindered New Bedford. Intensity, Houtman said, is her club's signature trait.

"We try to play defense as best as we can," she said. "That's usually what keeps us in games when we're not shooting well."

Playing tough "D" seems like a genuine source of pride for Houtman.

"You always want to outwork the other team with defense," she said. "It feels good when you make a steal or a block." As of yesterday afternoon, Houtman hadn't seen any tape of Andover. She was still relishing the Whalers' 65-62 win over Sandwich in the South final.

Like the Golden Warriors, she's excited to finally step onto the parquet.

"I'm kissing the floor," she said. "I just can't wait. It seems like it's going to be fun. There's not really any pressure, it's just anticipation."

And when the time comes to play, Gonsalves' favorite phrase will be ringing in her ears.

"No one's going to hand it to us," she said. "We're going to have to take it."

0 Story Comments