Andover Golden Warriors Boys Basketball '13-'14

Fri, Feb 28, 2014 07:00 PM @ Andover
Team 1 2 3 4 OT Final
Lynn English 24 14 16 19 8 81
Andover 14 27 15 17 13 86

Andover withstands massive test, earns thrilling tourney victory

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Friday, February, 28 By David Willis
Staff writer

ANDOVER  — The word has been written on the whiteboard on the Andover High locker room, and repeated countless times in practice.

“Coach (David) Fazio keeps saying fearless,” said co-captain John Pisacreta. “We have to be fearless when we are on the court.”

With their season on the line, the Golden Warriors embraced that motto last night.

From Connor Merinder’s block on a potential game-winning shot as time expired in regulation to key hoops from David Giribaldi and E.J. Perry in overtime, No. 3 Andover was able to withstand a late charge from No. 6 Lynn English and strike right back to earn a thrilling 86-81 OT victory in the Division 1 North quarterfinals last night.

“This was the craziest game I have seen in my 25 years as (Andover High) head coach,” said Fazio. “These guys earned this victory tonight.”

The Golden Warriors advance to the Division 1 North semifinals to take on No. 2 Everett, a team they pounded 74-54 two weeks ago. The date and location of the game is TBA.

“This was just such an amazing win,” said Merinder. “We don’t get scared. We don’t back down from a challenge. If they made a run, we knew we had to make a run right back. We weren’t going to back down.”

It looked as if Andover had the game wrapped up in the fourth, as Perry knocked down two 3-pointers and Ben Brown and Pisacreta added hoops to make the advantage 68-60 with just four minutes to play. But back game English with a 13-5 run to end the fourth, including a pair of free throws with 0:42 to tie the score.

The Bulldogs then nearly tool the lead in the closing seconds, but as senior captain Freddy Hogan drove to the basket, Merinder — who was playing with four fouls — contested the shot and rejected it as time expired.

“He had driven on that play before,” said Merinder. “I knew hew as going to take the shot with the clock winding down and I just knew I had to step up and make a play. I couldn’t think.”

Perry then opened the extra session with a bucket, and after Lynn English took the lead back Pisacreta drove to the hoop for two points.

Perry added another hoop, and Giribaldi gave the Warriors a firm grasp on the overtime momentum with a steal, layup and free throw to make the score 82-79.

English then began to foul, and Merinder and Giribaldi were each perfect from the line to lock down the victory.

“I knew they were going in,” said Giribaldi. “I am very confident in my free throw abilities and I knew I had to hit them and that they were going in.”

Lynn English, which spent most of pregame showing off high-flying dunking ability, surged to a 24-14 lead in the first quarter. But the dynamic duo of Giribaldi and Perry were ready to respond.

Giribaldi erupted for 18 points in the first half, while his freshman backcourt mate added 14 points in the first two quarters, as the Warriors earned a 41-38 advantage heading into halftime.

Perry continued to pour it in from deep in the second half, hitting three 3-pointers after the break to give him six for the game. His free throw late in the fourth turned out to be the tying points, setting up the overtime heroics.

Perry finished with a game-high 28 points, while Giribaldi was right behind with 25.

“Every time I touch the ball my mindset is that it is going in,” said Perry. “When one man’s not hitting shots someone steps up and does the job.”

Merinder was a monster under the boards, grabbing 18 rebounds to go with his 11 points and Pisacreta added 10 points.

After a rowdy celebration on the Dunn Gym floor, the Warriors set their sights on Everett.

“We can’t wait,” said Pisacreta. “We beat them earlier, but we know it’s going to be a terrific battle.”

Game Statistics:

Lynn English (81): Freddy Hogan 3 6-7 14, Stevie Collins 5 0-1 11, Danny Lukanda 10 3-5 23, Erick Rosario 9 3-3 23, Kelvin DeLeon 2 0-0 5, Cam Burke 0 1-2 0, Johnny Hilaire 2 0-0 4. Totals 31 13-18 81 

Andover (86): E.J. Perry IV 10 2-4 28, David Giribaldi 8 7-7 25, Jeffrey Dreyfus 1 0-0 2, Connor Merinder 4 2-2 11, John Pisacreta 5 0-1 10, Ryan O'Connor 0 0-2 0, Ben Brown 5 0-0 10, Reid Bryant 0 0-0 0. Totals 33 11-16 86  

3-pointers: A — Perry IV 6, Giribaldi 2, Merinder; LE — Hogan 2, Collins, Rosario 2, DeLeon

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