Blue BBall Slips Past Deerfield, Hoggers Hammer Andover Boys

As the conclusion to their season draws closer, the Boys Varsity Basketball team had a week full of conflicting results. Dominated by the height and skill of North Field Mount Hermon, Andover fell to its third straight loss on Friday and finished with a 70-45 loss. The Big Blue answered with a nail-biting 66-63 victory against Deerfield. After previously losing to NMH by more than 40 points, the boys struggled on Friday to regain the confidence that they had lost during the game in January. Upholding their reputation as a top ranked squad, NMH played off of PA’s weaknesses. They forced multiple Andover turnovers, and used their height to continually block Big Blue shots. Even when Andover closed the gap between the scores to six with a few minutes left in the first half, the Hoggers quickly answered. At halftime, with a 37-24 NMH lead, the score reflected a frustrating beginning to a discouraging end to the game for Andover. “They were the best team we played all season,” Coach Leon Modeste admitted. “Plain and simple, they are good. If NMH doesn’t win the tournament, I will be very surprised.” Joey Lokitis ’06 provided a bright spot in the game by scoring 23 points, and Adam Crabtree ’04 added 12 to the board. “We can’t just rely on scoring from Joey, Adam, and Tyler; we need to make shooting a team effort,” Modeste recognized. “We scored 45 total points and those three contributed 37. You just can’t do that unless you have Jordan and Pippen on your team. So, of course we were upset about the loss. But the kids know they played harder and for the most part smarter than the game in January.” Contributing eight assists, Captain Tyler Simms ’04 commented that “we played well enough defensively to hold NMH far below their scoring average; however we were not able to get off the type of shots that could keep us in the game.” Knef King ’04 led the team in rebounds with nine. But regardless of the discouraging loss Friday, PA pumped up the intensity and proved a tough match for visiting Deerfield. With back and forth scoring between teams until the clock ran out, Andover pulled out a win by three points. With a halftime score of 33-30 Deerfield, the Big Blue was not playing up to its potential. However, the close score made for an exciting game for fans to watch. At the six-minute mark, Andover held the lead by eight. Deerfield refused to shows signs of defeat and continued to put pressure on PA to make shots. King made a crucial steal and raced down the court to put Andover ahead by one. The game went back and forth from there until Pat Houlihan ’04 stole the ball and passed it to Crabtree who scored a three pointer, tying the game at 63 with 1:11 left. Then with less than 20 seconds in the game, King made a rebound, Lokitis scored, and with a lead of three points, Andover claimed a victory.