It is not how you start, but how you finish. The Boys Varsity Basketball team hope to prove that saying, as they attempt to improve upon their 1-4 record to start the season. The boys came out with a strong win in their season opener, but their success was cut short by some tough losses. The team came into the season with high expectations. “We were hoping for a record of 4-1, but ended up 1-4,” said Captain Tyler Simms ’04. Their record of 1-4 is not a true indication of their early season play; most of their games have been extremely close. “We were a little bit shaky in the beginning,” added Adam Crabtree ’04. The basketball team won their first game of the season in a strong showing against the Clark University JV team with a final score of 70-64. Simms was the scoring leader with an impressive 24 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. The game, however, could not have been won without the strong play of Crabtree and Joey Lokitis ’06. Crabtree led the defense and scored 18 points, to go with his 4 steals. He commented on his strong play, “In the first game someone needed to step up and push the team through it. I do the best I can to help out the team.” Lokitis put up 16 points and 3 assists. The win left the team ready to take on their next opponents St. Mark’s. Against St. Mark’s, Andover struggled to come out on top, losing 71-68. Despite the loss, Andover basketball played a solid first half. At the intermission they were leading 36-26. St. Mark’s made up ten points and had claimed the lead with 8:10 remaining in the half. The Blue tied it up again with solid scoring from Lokitis and Patrick Houlihan ’04. They scored 18 and 16 points, respectively. The game was not lost until the final buzzer, as an Andover three-point prayer went unanswered. The Big Blue suffered a disappointing loss to Tilton in their next game, losing 81-76 to the Rams. Crabtree led the scoring with 24 points. Consistent high scorer Lokitis contributed 19 points. The game was played well by both sides, but Tilton dominated the boards and scrapped up extra points. The loss left the team with a 1-2 record to that point in the season. The Loomis game was another close one for the Big Blue, sending the Big Blue home with a devastating 64-60 loss to the Pelicans. They lead by one point at the half, but Loomis fought hard in the second half and took a small lead. Crabtree led the scoring with 17, followed by Lokitis with 15. Simms led the offense and contributed 7 assists. Houlihan and PG Gage Eberlin racked up 7 and 6 rebounds, respectively. Against New Hampton, Andover struggled to stay in the game, ending with an 82-72 loss. Simms said, “We played some tough games. At New Hampton we were in it for the whole game. We need to fight through the whole way and pull out these close games, especially against non class-A teams.” Simms played unselfishly, grabbing 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Eberlin also pulled through for the team with 19 points and 6 rebounds. Lokitis helped the team with 18 points. Before they left for break, the Big Blue traveled to Florida to play in a 10-team tournament. The tournament was a breakthrough for the team and was a big success, with the Andover team coming home with an admirable third place. Crabtree said, “Even though we were shaky in the beginning, everyone really came together in Florida and we gelled as a team.” In the tournament, the Big Blue lost to Las Vegas High School by 3 points in the semi-finals but beat a very talented team from Denver, CO. Simms said, “The win against Denver carried the team’s momentum into the rest of the tournament. I think we found out a lot about the team.” The beginning of the season has been tough for the Big Blue, but the toughest part is yet to come. They must outplay some stiff competition in order to make the Final Eight. The team comes back from break with a good attitude and momentum from their solid game against Denver. They are determined to pull through in the clutch and win the close ones in order to make a post season run.