PA Hoopsters Topple NMH As Conlon, Freeman Lead

It might have been Valentines Day, but there was no love in the air. Last Friday, the Girls Basketball team sent the Hoggers home 57-29. The win gives the Lady Blue a 13-3 record as they head into their final regular season game against Exeter tomorrow. Starters Captain Danielle Vardaro ’03, Meg Coffin ’03, Krystal Freeman ’03, Mimi Hanley ’04, and Kat Conlon ’04 immediately went to work to secure an early lead. Ten minutes into the game, the score stood at an impressive 25-6, and the win had essentially been clinched. The Hoggers’ score did not even hit double digits until there was a minute left on the DiClemente scoreboard. When the buzzer went off for halftime, the score was 29-11. In the second half, the Big Blue was merciless. After the starting line thoroughly tested the Hoggers’ stamina, Coach Kennedy started pulling the starters out and giving court time to other players. Coach K played the entire bench, and the girls still maintained their gigantic lead. With most of the starting line graduating, it was good to see the uppers, lowers, and even juniors step it up, readying themselves for the playing time they will see next season. Even the newer players drained multiple threes and pushed the Hoggers’ net continuously. The Andover defense kept NMH from putting anything through the net for a full six minute spree. Conlon and Freeman led all scorers, each bringing in 12 points, with Freeman hitting her first three of the season. The hours the Lady Blue have logged, practicing and training, are beginning to show up in every game as the team finds their victorious rhythm. Other standouts included Danielle Denufrio ’03 and Christa Vardaro ’06; both put in a shot from behind the arc and added multiple points to the Lady Blue’s lead. Denufrio, with her on-target performance, talked about her role as a senior on the team. “Coach Kennedy asked the seniors to step it up a notch,” she said, “I think all of us really did, and it really helped the team.” With the team comprised of many seniors, it is their responsibility to show leadership and inspire the younger players. The post-season tournament, only weeks away, is on everyone’s mind. It will be the Lady Blue’s chance to avenge their losses against Tabor, the reigning champions. Sarah Chang ’05 explained how the team plans to prepare for the upcoming schedule, “The game was great. We have one more week of playing before the tournament. We need to use that time to get it together to fulfill our team goals.” Laurel Sticklor ’05 agreed with her fellow lower. “This was a good game for us to get organized for our upcoming game against Exeter and the tournament,” she said. Before the tournament starts, the Lady Blue has one last game against Exeter on Saturday. The girls, who play at 5, hope to deny Exeter their chance for revenge. The last time Andover met up with Exeter on the basketball court, the Lady Blue bested Exeter by a final score of 53-29. That, however, was earlier this winter, and the girls know this next time around they will have to bring their A game in order to take out the Exies.