Girls BBall Trounces Exeter, Falls to Nobles in Tournament

The energy was high as the Lady Blue showed Exeter the strength and depth of their team, trumping against Exeter with a 46-23 win. In one of their final games of the season, the spirit and energy were high on the court and in the stands as rivalry commenced at full throttle. Having bested Exeter only two weeks before, the Lady Blue knew what they were facing. When asked about the upcoming game, Christa Vardaro ’06 said, “[we’re] extremely optimistic. We’ve played them previously and we’re prepared. Our team has grown closer and stronger, and we’re set. All we need to do is pull and hold it together and we’ll definitely have a win.” The confidence among the team was palpable in the preceding days and the instant they stepped onto the court on Saturday. Despite a slight change in the starting line-up, as Kat Conlon ’04 was unable to play, the Blue Hoopsters were ready and waiting to face off against the Big Red for the year’s second chance for rivalry bragging rights. Andover went to work immediately, holding off the Red offense and returning it with multiple well-placed shots. Even without starter Conlon, the line-up held its own. With a different group of starters, the dynamics were different between the players, but clean passes and constant movement kept the competition scrambling. Early points were scored by captain Mimi Hanley ’04, and Sarah Chang ’05, one well-aimed three-pointer by Laurel Sticklor ’05, with later points from both junior players, Sarah Beattie and Kristen Macdonald, with a free throw and two baskets by Nell Beattie ’05. The Lady Blue worked hard to prevent any good shots from the Exeter girls. Switching the chemistry, Coach Kennedy began varying the on-court players, and it worked wonderfully. With only six minutes left before the end of the period, Exeter had only 4 points to show for the 20 points to Andover. The attack was relentless, turning the Red offense back almost immediately. By the end of the first half, the score was 24-11, tipped in favor of Andover. Hanley, Stephanie Krant ’05, Rachel Shack ’04, N. Beattie, and Sticklor went at it as the starting line for the second half. Exeter began to push harder early on, but the excellent defense of Sticklor, Krant and the combined coordination between all the players left the Red girls’ squad launching half-prepared shots and banking heavily on luck. When the Red did manage to shoot, their accuracy was poor, and the Blue capitalized on their errors, picking up nearly every rebound and sending it back to the Exeter net. Hanley and the Beattie sisters led the charge. The strong teamwork among the players continued to push the ball continually towards the Exeter hoop. Even with the crowd cheering and screaming, Andover kept its focus. As the second half continued, Hanley and N. Beattie repeatedly denied the Exeter shots with rock solid defense. Andover’s score continued to rise with a lay-up by Vardaro despite the line of Exies. Accurate free throw shooting made a big difference as the game entered the home stretch. With five minutes left, the score stood at 36-19. S. Beattie added three more buckets to widen the margin even further. Exeter managed only two more baskets, slipping to the daunting Blue defense. The final score was 46-23, with the Beattie sisters leading the way in scoring with 10 apiece. Every Andover player contributed a great deal, pouring energy and competitive spirit into the contest. Sarah Beattie summed up the Lady Blue’s performance, “We were all really pumped right from the beginning, so we went out and just did what we had to do with energy. Our guards had a great game. They were really swinging it around the top well, translating into shots. ” Coach Kennedy said afterwards, “We didn’t get the chance to ‘put it to ’em’ today but that’s okay. We were working on our execution and we’ve had to solve some problems recently. I’m really pleased with them today.”