The second half of the season has revitalized the Andover varsity boys’ basketball team. In piecing together the squad’s various scorers, playmakers, and big men, Andover has finally achieved its goal of fielding a team versatile enough to tackle the biggest names in the division. With wins over perennial powerhouses Thayer and Clark University, the Big Blue has surged to its first winning streak of the season. A decisive, 89-58 victory against Hamden Hall this past Saturday extended that streak to five games. The game against Hamden Hall featured outstanding scoring performances from all members of the Andover squad as 10 out of the 11 players scored for the Big Blue, leading it to what was a thorough drubbing of its opposition. In what was arguably its first strong start of the season, the Blue jumped out to an early 13-0 lead. Although Hamden was able to recompose itself, they couldn’t overcome the boys’ early, effective strike. Will Heidrich ’03 sealed the outcome by scoring 10 points, all during the final minutes of the match. Tyler Simms ’04 and Coleman Lyons ’03 also had characteristically strong performances, serving as the formidable backcourt tandem that has been largely responsible for the team’s sudden winning run. Captain Zak DeOssie ’03 and Colin Liotta ’03 provided an almost impenetrable defense within the paint, shutting down the generally undersized and overmatched opposition. Liotta and DeOssie combined for 6 blocks over the course of the contest. However, Andover’s extraordinary winning streak came to an abrupt end on Wednesday night, as Worcester topped the Big Blue by a score of 95-74. The game was over in virtually the first 5 minutes of play, as Worcester jumped out to a quick 18 point lead. The opposition capitalized on Andover’s lack of intensity during the opening minutes, running multiple fast breaks and immobilizing Andover’s offense. The team was forced into taking numerous ill-advised long-range shots and, despite several early points from DeOssie, the strategy ultimately failed. Coleman Lyons ’03 put points on the board for his team by the sole virtue of getting to the free throw line on several occasions. Andover showed its first signs of life, down 21 points, clamping down defensively and playing aggressive offense. While DeOssie earned a quick block and a steal, the team as a whole remained largely unable to score on jump shots. Adjatay Nyadjroh ’03 was the exception to the rule; he had the first points of his generally outstanding performance by hitting a fall-away shot from behind the 3-point arc. He repeated minutes later with another 3-pointer to narrow Worcester’s lead to 14. In riding the momentum of this sudden barrage of points, Tyler Simms ’04 intercepted a pass and raced downcourt to score, draw the foul, and complete the 3-point play. Andover’s comeback was short-lived, however, as the opposition closed the half with a flurry of offensive activity. Heading into the recess, Worcester commanded the lead by a score of 42-24. The second half began with renewed vigor and intensity for Andover at both ends of the court. Nyadjroh served as a stabilizing factor by netting his third 3-point shot of the game. Despite his commendable effort, the team still trailed by 16 points. Andover’s big men were generally overshadowed by the competition, which appeared in more than one instance to simply be toying with Andover’s overmatched, undersized front line. The Big Blue suddenly came alive with a hail of jump shots. However as Andover’s defense began to falter, Worcester made use of countless scoring opportunities to work its way inside and capitalize on all too many easy shots. With the score resting at 88-66 in Worcester’s favor, Heidrich entered the game and earned a quick 3 points. Simms followed through with an alley-oop pass to Lyons, who completed the play, but the effort was too little and too late. The varsity boys’ basketball team dropped its first contest out of the previous five. The loss denies Andover the chance of closing out the season with a winning record, and marks the end of a most extraordinary winning streak. The team will seek to rebound against NMH today.