Boys BBall Slam Dunks Tilton Academy; Still Fall in Close Game with the Hoggers

The Boys’ Basketball Team has had high and low points this season. This week was not an execption. The Big Blue dropped one to NMH but bounced back with a much needed win against Tilton. Following a tough defeat at the hands of longtime rival Exeter, the Big Blue squad sought to improve its morale and earn a much-needed win during a recent game against NMH, however, their efforts were unsuccessful. The game was the final contest of a rough four-game home-stand, and the difficulty of the team’s schedule was beginning to visibly effect the Big Blue’s performance. Ultimately, the competition’s sheer talent and dominance allowed it to claim a 79 – 65 victory. Northfield’s tenacity early on in the first half helped them jump out to an early 10-point lead. Although Andover was able to run with its opposition for much of the first half, the absence of Coleman Lyons ’03 hindered the Big Blue’s offensive flow substantially. Lyons, an offensive threat who routinely scores in the upper teens, missed the game due to a hand injury. Adjatay Nyadjroh ’03 stepped up to fill the void left by Lyons’ absence by displaying an impeccable shooting touch from all areas of the court; Nyadjroh put on an inspiring performance during the first half and finished the game with a career-high 16 points. Despite trailing NMH at halftime, the Big Blue emerged from the locker room with renewed vigor and tenacity to start off the second half. With little more than 12 minutes remaining in the game, Colin Liotta ’03 drilled a jump-shot from the free-throw line to give Andover its first lead of the game, 53 – 52. Unperturbed by the swing in momentum, N.M.H. recovered quickly behind the outstanding play of its nimble point guard. The resulting 13-3 run by the opposition effectively sealed the game’s outcome, despite strong efforts on defense by Liotta and Tyler Simms ’04. In the team’s next match against Tilton, Andover sought to break what had become a five-game losing skid. The game turned out to be a blowout, as Andover was able to overcome its previous loss to N.M.H., generally outclassing its opponent by a score of 78 – 35. The match, which was expected by most to be a less-lopsided contest, was the Big Blue’s 3rd road victory of the season (the team has yet to win at home). The 43-point margin of victory, however, was enough to restore a substantial amount of the squad’s confidence. Tilton was able to run with the Big Blue for the first minute, after which their ineffective offense and incompetent defense doomed their hopes for success. Indeed, Tilton’s first two points (which came off of a dunk) were hardly indicative of the team’s later offensive production. Tilton, which switched repeatedly between man-to-man and zone defenses, yielded countless transition points to the Andover scorers; their team was simply unable to stop or disrupt the Blue’s offensive flow. Lyons finished the game with a team-high 31 points; the mark was also his second-highest scoring performance of the season. Lyons’ return to the starting lineup was an evident boost to the offense; his integral role as a primary scoring option was, in large part, what allowed his team to break the game open. With a record of 3 – 10, the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team will attempt to gain its first back-to-back victories with a match this Friday against Thayer. The Blue, which has won 3 out of 7 of its away games so far this season, will work to improve that record against talented opposition that features prep-school standout Mike Jones (a senior who has been recruited to play college basketball at Maryland). With a long climb necessary to reach .500, Andover will seek to take yet another step in the right direction after a thorough drubbing of Tilton’s Varsity team.