Andover Golden Warriors Girls Basketball '07-'08

Tue, Mar 11, 2008 07:45 PM @ Neutral Location - TD Banknorth Garden
Team Final
Playoff Game Division 1 - State Semifinals
Andover 61
New Bedford 34
Roger Darrigrand, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Hot-shooting Andover harpoons Whalers, earn berth in state final

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Wednesday, March, 12 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

The friendly confines of the TD Banknorth Garden?

That's the way it looked for the Andover High girls basketball team last night as it romped past New Bedford 61-34 in the EMass. finals to advance to Saturday's Division 1 state final at the DCU Center in Worcester (5:45 p.m.). It will face the winner of tonight's Westboro-Northampton game.

The Golden Warriors (23-2), acting like the famed parquet floor was as much their own as the Celtics', had their best shooting night of the tournament, zooming to a 22-10 first-quarter lead and gradually pulling away. It was the most lopsided Eastern Mass. final since the Westwood girls whipped Newburyport, 61-28, in the 2001 Division 3 state semis.

New Bedford (19-6) showed excellent quickness and athleticism, but the Whalers weren't in the same league when it came to shooting. Not even close.

Mixing in some excellent drives through the lane, Andover was red-hot from 3-point range, hitting 9 of 18 for the night, and shot a strong 40 percent (21 of 52) overall. New Bedford, by contrast, had just one 3-pointer and was a miserable 13 of 64 from the floor.

It was no wonder that, after the initial celebration following the game, most of the Golden Warriors went to midcourt and kissed the floor. It had been more than generous to them.

Laura Renfro hit a 3-pointer within the first minute of the game, giving the Warriors a 3-2 lead, and the fireworks began. Meghan Thomann (game-high 17 points) and Renfro (15 points) both had three 3-pointers, Ilana Cohen had a pair and freshman Natalie Gomez-Martinez added one.

"When we shoot like that, and we get Lauren (Hughes) and Camille (Fantini) working hard underneath, we can be pretty hard to beat," said Andover coach Jim Tildsley. "We hadn't been hitting our shots in the tournament, but tonight we got good looks and made them.

"In our league, they know us and maybe defend us a little more, but maybe they weren't as ready for us. I just know I'm real proud of the way we played tonight."

Moreover, said Renfro, with Lowell and Central Catholic out of the way, the pressure was off.

"I found the Tsongas Arena more nerve-racking because we were playing Central, and before that we had Lowell," said Renfro. "They're just so tough.

"We were trying to stay calm and I think it worked; I don't think we were nervous at all. A lot of us played here in the fall in a charity game so we were used to the floor. ...This was just a lot of fun."

New Bedford coach Mickey Gonsalves definitely had the impression that the Warriors were comfortable with their surroundings.

"It seemed like they had been here practicing," said Gonsalves. "You have to give them credit | they shot the ball extremely well. At one point, they were 6 of 8 for 3-pointers | that's just incredible. For us, we usually need an old-fashioned three-point play.

"We knew they spread it out, and they can hurt you from outside and also driving the lanes. They're hard to defend." Indeed, while Renfro and Thomann were on fire from the outside, Lauren Hughes was doing her usual dirty work inside. She had six of her 11 points in the first quarter and finished with 15 rebounds.

"It seemed like everything was working for us," said Renfro. By halftime, with Andover ahead by a commanding 32-14, the outcome was no longer in doubt. At that point, New Bedford had hit on only 5 of 30 field goal attempts, a rate that only improved slightly in the second half.

"After Meghan and Laura got their first shots in, they felt confident and then we got confidence in them," said Hughes. "It makes it a lot easier when everyone's hitting their shots."

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