Luck just isn’t on their side. PA’s boys on the court struggled again this week, suffering another two losses to Cheshire Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy. An outstanding effort on behalf of the Andover boys’ varsity basketball team was negated in Saturday’s disappointing home loss to Cheshire. The team had sought to improve its 2 – 7 record against an opponent over which the Big Blue should clearly have triumphed. Andover captain Zak DeOssie ’03 picked up two fouls during the first two minutes of play. Although captain DeOssie played a dedicated, aggressive brand of basketball, his early foul trouble limited his viability as both a scoring option and a defensive mainstay. Andover allowed Cheshire to jump out to a 10-point lead in the early going; however, the Big Blue was able to keep the score close for all but the final minutes. The early hurdle imposed upon them by Cheshire prevented them gaining the upper hand. Andover acquired its first and only lead at 62 – 61, when Coleman Lyons ’03 scored on a timely 3-point basket. The opposition’s infallible point guard, however, promptly broke the Blue’s comeback with a layup at the opposite end of the floor. What Andover could provide was simply too little too late. In a game for which they were mentally and physically prepared to win, the 77 – 70 loss to Cheshire was all the more disappointing and unsatisfactory. In playing its 3rd straight home game against the dreaded Exies, Andover fell short in the 2nd half to lose a hotly-anticipated match against PEA. Despite a promising start, the Andover boys varsity basketball team ultimately fell victim to its opponent’s outstanding shooting and its own lackluster defense. Until halftime, the Big Blue had managed to sustain a tenuous lead; Exeter, however, was able to clamp down defensively and jump-start its offense to gain the upper hand at halftime, with the score of 49 – 44. For the remainder of the game the Exeter squad was simply able to execute its offensive movements with greater efficiency. Their defensive prowess allowed them to stifle the Big Blue, which in turn led to fast-break points and open looks for the visiting team. As the contest drew to a conclusion Exeter simply gained momentum, dispatching the Andover team with a final score of 98 – 77. Adjatay Nyadjroh ’03, Andy Heighington ’03, and Coleman Lyons ’03 propelled their squad to an early lead of 9 – 2. The Big Blue exploited a visibly intimidated Exeter team; while Nyadjroh and Heighington punished them on the interior, captain Zak DeOssie ’03 manhandled opponents at the defensive end with multiple blocks. After a fall-away 3-point shot by Nyadjroh, Tyler Simms ’04 sank a smooth jumper only to pick up two quick turnovers on the following two possessions. Undeterred, he received a long pass from Adam Crabtree ’04 and made a strong drive to the hoop, only to draw the foul and convert 1 of 2 shots from the free-throw stripe. Throughout the remainder of the half, Andover remained almost flawless from behind the 3-point arc; such performance stood in stark contrast to Exeter’s inability to hit much of anything from downtown. With the score resting at 25 – 20 in Andover’s favor, Joey Lokitis ’06 came off the bench and contributed immediately; the junior earned a quick three points and two steals (to go along with 2 turnovers) during his short stint on the floor. Following another barrage of 3-pointers from both Nyadjroh and Simms, the opposition shut down the Big Blue on defense and succeeded in tying the score at 36 – 36. With the momentum in its favor, Exeter was able to close out the half by gaining a 5-point lead which it would never relinquish. The little that Andover could do at the beginning of the 2nd half was offset by its opponent’s good ball-flow and prolific ability to score. Both Lyons and DeOssie were able to temporarily stem the bleeding with several quick baskets, but Exeter was able to preserve its five-point margin. As Lyons and the opposition’s #21 traded baskets, the visiting team’s lead swelled to 10. Only several fast-break opportunities, during which Simms scored on an underhand layup and Lokitis converted a cross-court pass from Nyadjroh, were the Blue able to prevent Exeter from sealing the game’s outcome a full 10 minutes prior to the contest’s official end. Following a brief timeout, the gameplay on both sides became foul-ridden and generally physical. Players on both sides were hacked and fouled repeatedly while making aggressive cuts to the basket. Andover’s style of play, however, was ill-suited to the task at hand; a measured and methodical offense gave in to a futile sense of desperation, as the Big Blue managed a mere 7 points over the final 10 minutes. Andover’s recklessness, in turn, allowed its rival to capitalize on the numerous open shots it was granted by our ineffective defense. Riding the energy of its scoring streak, Exeter was able to close out the match and achieve victory by the final score of 98 – 77. At 2 – 9, the varsity basketball squad will attempt to revive its morale this Friday in yet another home-stand, this time against NMH.