After dominating the competition for years, the Girls’ Basketball team is beginning to show signs of mortality. The Big Blue’s game last Wednesday against last season’s undefeated champions, Tabor Academy, got winter term off to a slow start with Lady Blue losing by a rough score of 53-72. This, however, was not an example of how well the team played in their games during vacation. This game was full of fouls, players falling over, and a consistent Tabor lead by double-digit points. Nonetheless, the Lady Blue kept fighting until the end, keeping fans screaming at DiClemente court. Over the vacation, Lady Blue played three games against Harvard’s JV, Loomis-Chaffee, and New Hampton, allowing the team extra playing time to polish their skills. Despite a loss to Harvard 42-60, the Andover girls played an excellent first game with Captain Danielle Vardaro ’03 and Meg Coffin ’03 bringing in 14 and 12 points, respectively. Krystal Freemen ’03 also added to the effort with her 12 rebounds, giving Harvard’s JV some real competition. Andover’s game against Loomis-Chaffee was amazing; it showed just how much the girls had been working over the past few weeks. Again, Vardaro led the team by scoring 19 points and an unheard-of five three-pointers. Mimi Hanley ’04 scored 17 points, a personal best. The game went to Andover with an impressive score of 47-32. In the third vacation game against New Hampton, PA dominated the court, finishing off with a lead of 52-24. Coffin and Kat Conlon ’04 were the game’s leaders. Coffin brought in 15 points and made 16 rebounds, and Conlon scored the first 10 points for Lady Blue. This lead also allowed more players time on the court; Jevan Jammal ’06, Nell Beattie ’05, Sarah Chang ’05, and Jessie Daigneault ’04 all got to play. The team agrees that their vacation games allowed for them to improve dramatically, especially in their ability to play together. The four-day game spree gave the girls more court time and a chance to bond as a team. According to Cortney Tetrault ’03, “Staying after break and playing basketball without the stress of school helped us to start clicking on and off the court.” The team’s improvement was clearly evident when they played their second two games; Hanley agreed. “We started out rusty against Harvard,” she said, “but after the weekend we had really come together as a team and played well.” Starting for Andover against Tabor were Tetrault, Vardaro, Coffin, Hanley, and Conlon. The game started out with Andover and Tabor’s inching out over each other, competing for a one or two point lead. Even after an incredible shot by Conlon, Tabor led 17-25 at the 8-minute mark. Freeman brought the game closer by scoring to make it 23-30. In the last four minutes of the half, Tabor’s shooting spree brought the half-time score to 23-34, an eleven-point goal at which Lady Blue could work. In the second half, Lady Blue was unable to make a comeback. The half was rough; with over ten fouls by each team and much time spent by both the players and the ball on the floor, it was clear that both teams had recently come back from vacation. Both coaches noticed the team’s difficulty, and called a total of six timeouts in the half, making it a long and difficult game to watch. In the first five minutes, Tabor’s lead increased, making the score 31-46. However, Hanley’s aggressive steal of the ball right out of a Tabor player’s hands and her following shot lessened Tabor’s lead and brought Andover’s score up to 33. The fans later clapped and screamed for both Conlon and Hanley’s exciting baskets that gave Lady Blue hope of making a comeback. After Conlon was fouled out with 58 seconds left, Coach Kennedy put in Chang and Daigneault along with varsity newcomers Laurel Sticklor ’05, Beattie, and Rachel Shack ’04. They finished off the game and left the court with the final score standing at 53-72. The loss is only softened considering Tabor’s previous record. The top scorers for this game were Coffin and Conlon, who lit up DiClemente court, scoring 14 and 11 times, respectively. Captain Vardaro helped to keep Andover from falling behind anymore, bringing 7 points for Lady Blue. Despite the loss, the team remained focused and their skills were still present as they made 78% of all their free throws. Vardaro was optimistic about the loss saying, “The game was what [we] needed to judge [our] talent and to see where [we] needed to improve. It’s a good eye opener,” she continued, “we have a lot of work to do but I think they’re a beatable team.” Krystal Freeman was determined to put up a better fight the next time Lady Blue plays the revered Tabor. She declared, “Next time around we can bring it closer or even beat them. I have confidence that we can at least give them a run for their money next time.” Lady Blue will have another opportunity to play Tabor February 5th; this will be Andover’s chance for revenge. As this is just the first game of winter term, Lady Blue will surely improve and give their fans an exciting season to watch. With more playing time and more games like Wednesday’s game against Tabor and the game against Harvard’s JV, the team will improve by playing harder competition. Next up for the girls is Milton at 7 on Saturday night in DiClemente Court, a game the girls will be ready for, anxious to prove that losing is not contagious.