Central Catholic Raiders Girls Basketball '07-'08

Sat, Mar 08, 2008 05:45 PM @ Neutral Location - Tsongas Arena
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Playoff Game Division 1 North - Finals
Central Catholic 5 7 18 13 43
Andover 18 12 14 11 55
Katie McMahon, Staff PhotographerMore photos

THE BEAT GOES ON : Andover sprints past Central to punch its ticket to the Garden

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Saturday, March, 08 By David Willis
Staff writer

LOWELL | Even normally vocal Andover forward Camille Fantini was at a loss for words.

“I can’t even describe the feeling,” said the senior. “This is what we have worked towards for four years and it is finally here. Now we have to keep doing our thing.”

The Golden Warriors jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back in downing red-hot archrival Central Catholic 55-43 at the Division 1 North championship at the Tsongas Arena yesterday.

Andover (22-3) will now face Division 1 South champ New Bedford at the TD Banknorth Garden Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. Central, which caught fire late in the season, finished with a 16-8 mark.

“Those four seniors really stepped up,” said Andover coach Jim Tildsley. “They have been with me for four years, and have lost in the semifinals three years in a row. They all wanted it so bad, and they all ended up in double figures.”

Instead of one individual taking control for Andover, it was the four starting seniors that led the way. Lauren Hughes (12 points), Meghan Thomann (10 points) Fantini (11 points) and Laura Renfro (11 points) scored every Golden Warrior point in the first half, when they essentially put the game away.

“We were a little too excited coming out,” said Renfro, a tenacious guard who helped her club beat Central in all three meetings this winter. “We calmed down and started to win the 1-on-1 battles. But that energy helped us.”

To go with her normally stellar defense, Renfro knocked down three huge first-half 3-pointers.

“Those 3’s were big because they gave us a cushion and opened up the game,” said Tildsley. “And she was everywhere on defense causing turnovers.”

Renfro and Hughes, who excelled on Central star Katie Zenevitch, led a defense which caused 25 turnovers and forced 32 missed shots (13 of 45 shooting). Andover committed only 15 turnovers.

“Our defense was just awesome,” said Tildsley. “Zenevitch had a few putbacks early, but after that, I think we really defended well. We had to watch where Katie was, but we were mostly going man-to-man defense the whole way.”

Fantini was also a force down low, scoring eight crucial points in the first half. After a scoreless first half, brilliant freshman point guard Natalie Gomez-Martinez turned it on for nine second-half points and rendered the Central press ineffective.

The Raiders did manage a late rally, cutting the deficit to nine late as Zenevitch scored 10 of her game-high 16 points after the break, and senior forward Riley Dunn came alive to pump in all 11 of her points in the second half.

“We struggled in the first half,” said Central coach Sue Downer. “We put ourselves behind and you can’t come back against a team like that. We tried, and we did what we could. But we missed too many shots under the basket.”

The Warriors took advantage to earn a trip to the Garden.

“It’s amazing,” said Thomann. “I can’t believe we are going to be playing on the same floor as the Boston Celtics.”

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