Andover Golden Warriors Boys Basketball '13-'14

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 07:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Andover 17 19 18 22 76
Central Catholic 15 6 13 31 65

Perry, Andover withstand massive comeback, defeat archrival Central Catholic

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

Wednesday, February, 19 By David Willis
Staff writer

LAWRENCE — Stepping onto the court at Central Catholic’s Memorial Gym as an opponent had already fulfilled a life-long dream for E.J. Perry IV.

Growing up in Andover, surrounded by a family that lives and breaths Golden Warrior sports, the freshman had played through the scenario countless times in his head.

“My whole life I have heard the stories,” said Perry. “Stories about my uncles and dad playing in this gym for Andover. It’s something that had always meant so much to me and that I had dreamed of many times in my head.”

No matter the dreams, it couldn’t have played out better than it did last night.

With Central Catholic cutting what was a 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter to just four points with 0:52 left in the game, Perry stepped up in a huge way. The youngster knocked down two free throws, took a charge with four fouls on Raiders star Nick Cambio that disallowed a basket and followed that with two more foul shots to turn the tide back in Andover’s favor.

The Golden Warriors took over from there and finished off a heart-stopping 76-65 victory over their archrival Raiders last night before a capacity crowd of over 1,00 fans.

“It has been a long time, much too long, since Andover has won at Central,” said center Connor Merinder. “The atmosphere was crazy, there were times I couldn’t hear myself. We knew they were going to make a run. We just had to settle in and play basketball. To win this, at Central, is so satisfying. It means everything.”

This marked Andover’s second victory in three meetings with Central Catholic this season, including the Christmas Tournament title game. Prior to this season, the Golden Warriors had lost 21 of their previous 22 match-ups with the Raiders dating back to Jan. 6, 2006.

“This just had to happen,” said senior John Pisacreta. “It is the greatest feeling ever. “It has been a while for Andover (winning at Central), so I know this is very special for all of us. E.J., the freshman, was great. It’s just awesome.”

The Warriors were firmly in control, holding a 20-point after three quarters, and when Perry nailed a jumper to start the fourth it seemed the Blue and Gold may have closed out their nemesis.

But Central, and particularly defending Eagle-Tribune Player of the Year Tyler Nelson, were far from finished.

The sharpshooter knocked down his first jumper of the quarter, and after Andover’s David Giribaldi answered with a 3 of his own then three free throws, Nelson went off.

He authored a 9-0 run all on his own with three straight 3-pointers, and following a jumper by teammate Kevin Fitzgerald and free throws for Alex Santos, Nelson added another trey to cut the lead to just 65-60 with 1:03 left in the contest.

“Nelson is an amazing player,” said Pisacreta. “We had to lock down and play defense. We rely on our defensive intensity and we weren’t playing. Finally we were able to lock him up, and we took advantage.”

The Warriors were dealt another blow when high-scorer Giribaldi fouled out, and when Cambio knocked down a layup the score was 66-62 with under a minute to play.

“I wanted the ball,” said Perry. “I was confident. I was calling for the ball and when got it I knew I had to hit the free throws. If I made them then we won, if I didn’t we probably would lose. But after the first one spun in I was confident.”

Central Catholic went into foul mode and sent Perry to the line to hit his first two free throws. Then Cambio seemed to strike back, but was whistled for a charge on Perry.

“I was the weak side help and I got there a little late,” said Perry. “I didn’t want to go for the block, so I took it and it hurt my knee. That was an exciting moment.”

Perry was overcome with excitement after the charge, but was able to calm himself to swish the two free throws.

“I put one word on the board, and it was ‘fearless,’” said Andover coach Dave Fazio. “E.J. was fearless. He is the son of a coach, he is a quarterback and a catcher. He has moxy.”

The Warriors were money from the free throw line from there, as Ben Brown hit one, Pisacreta knocked down two and Merinder sunk three to give them the final margin.

“I was on the bench yelling to the guys, ‘You got this,’” said Giribaldi. “E.J. was great. So many guys were great. Nothing is like beating Central at Central.”

Perry wasn’t the only star of the day.

Pisacreta, a senior, delivered possibly the best day of his high school career. He scored 17 points, one behind Giribaldi’s team-high, and ran a spotless game at point guard while splitting Nelson duties with Perry.

“He was awesome tonight,” said Perry. “He is a true point guard. He makes everyone on the court better.”

Merinder also came up big, scoring 10 points while grabbing 14 rebounds against a Raiders team with a distinct size advantage.

Nelson led the Raiders, scoring a game-high 32 points and hitting eight 3-pointers, with 20 of the points and five of the treys in the fourth quarter.

Andover now hopes this emotional victory is a springboard into the postseason.

“This is a very big win,” said Pisacreta. “Hopefully we can ride this into a nice run in the state tournament. We aren’t satisfied.”

Game Statistics:

Andover (76): John Pisacreta 7 3-4 17, David Giribaldi 4 8-9 18, Connor Merinder 3 4-6 10, E.J. Perry IV 5 4-4 15, Ben Brown 1 3-4 6, Jeffrey Dreyfus 2 0-0 4, Ryan O'Connell 3 0-0 6. Totals 25 22-27 76

Central Catholic (65): Aaron Hall 6 0-2 12, Tyler Nelson 11 2-4 32, Alec Buresh 0 2-2 2, Nick Cambio 4 1-1 9, Alex Santos 1 2-2 4, Kevin Fernandez 2 2-3 6, Brian Triglione 0 0-2 0, A.J. Pettway 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 9-16 65

3-pointers: A — Giribaldi 2, Perry, Brown; CC — Nelson 8

0 Story Comments