Their fourth, and final meeting of the season was like no other. In what was expected to be a close, thrilling Division 1 North semifinal, the defending state champion Andover High girls' basketball team dominated Central Catholic, 60-33, Wednesday night at Methuen High School.
The Golden Warriors (24-1) set the tone early, opening the first quarter with a 9-0 run and finishing the first half with a 39-19 lead. Andover junior captain Nicole Boudreau finished with 31 points, 21 of which came in the first half.
“We were really focused,” Andover coach James Tildsley said. “We had a lot of pressure on us to win that game and they did it.”
Andover made a few adjustments on defense, including shifting the Boston College-bobund Boudreau over to cover Central sophomore Casey McLaughlin, and that seemed to make all the difference. The Golden Warriors held Central Catholic (20-3) to only 14 points in the second half. McLaughlin finished her night with 13 points.
“She’s killed us in the past couple of games,” Boudreau said of McClaughlin. “I was trying to force her left because she’s definitely strong going to her right. I had to box her out because she just crashes, she gets rebounds. That was my job today to stop Casey, and she’s a great player.”
Tildsley also put senior captain Natalie Gomez-Martinez on the Raiders’ Melissa Miller and senior captain Ally Fazio on Gabie Polce. Tildsley credited the idea to change the individual matchups to his players.
“I changed my coaching style so I listen to the kids a lot,” Tildsley said. “They said, ‘we should change these matchups.’ So I said okay, let’s give it a go, and it worked. Of course they told me at the end of the game, ‘we told you those matchups would work.’ So you have to listen to the kids once in a while.”
Despite the matchups, the Raiders were still able to get plenty of shots off from the inside, but they kept missing their shots. The offensive performance was a shocking one for Central Catholic coach Susan Downer, as the Raiders had only scored under 50 points once this season -- a 53-43 loss to Andover. They also lost the second meeting, 53-52, but Central had taken the third on Feb. 6, 61-57.
“That’s not the team that I coached all season,” Downer said. “I was just like what just happened. We couldn’t execute anything. I’m speechless.”
Andover will play Acton-Boxborough in the North final Friday afternoon (3:15) at TD Garden.
As she returned to a huddle of her teammates near the Andover bench, however, Boudreau had just one thing on her mind.
“We get to practice tomorrow,” she exclaimed as her teammates surrounded her.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
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