Weak Defense Costs Boys Basketball Final Game; Jelani Floyd ’07 Leads Scoring With 26 Points

In front of a packed crowd in its biggest game of the season, the Boys Basketball team suffered a heart-breaking 93-67 loss to its archrival Exeter last Saturday despite a strong 26-point effort by Jelani Floyd ’07. The defeat did not diminish the incredible success of the team, as its 13-7 record marked Andover’s first winning season in the past several years. Saturday’s loss did not begin well for Andover, as Exeter went on a 15-4 run in the game’s first five minutes. Unfortunately Andover was unable to come back from the deficit, and the Exeter controlled the rest of game. Offensively, Floyd led Andover with 26 points led Andover. He was supported by Captain Chris Bramwell ’07 and Matt Silva ’07, who scored 12 and 11 points, respectively. After the early deficit, Andover was able to settle down and cut the Exeter lead to four points. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Exeter regained control of the game for a 48-35 halftime lead. The second half was back and forth, with neither team building significant momentum, however the poor first half was too much for Andover to overcome, and it could not battle back for the win. Offensively Andover could not establish a constant rhythm, and was plagued by foul trouble throughout the game. Poor boxing-out down low also contributed greatly to the loss. “Plain and simple, we didn’t rebound,” said Floyd. “Exeter had three or four chances to score each possession which really kept them in control the entire game.” Defense was also lacking for Andover, and Exeter players were often left wide open down low and on the perimeter as a result. Gaps in the defense also allowed Exeter wide-open fast breaks and easy shots down low. The result was clear, as the 93 points Exeter scored was the most Andover has allowed all season. Despite the poor performance, there were many strong aspects in the game for Andover. The team did not lack in intensity or effort, and it responded to the pressure that faced it in its final game of the season. As Coach Modeste put it, “These kids are ready to compete with Exeter from the moment they get admitted to this school. They are never affected by the pressure.” For many Andover players, it was not only the last game of the season, but also their last game in an Andover uniform. As the starting Seniors were taken out towards the end of the game, they received a well-deserved standing ovation from all of the Andover fans. The Seniors’ strong presence on the team has propelled Andover to its winning record this season. “We ended up having a very successful season and almost made the league playoffs,” said Will Sherrill ’07. “It was the first winning season in a long time here at Andover so it was great to be a part of re-starting a winning tradition.” A huge reason for this success was the team effort that was constant throughout the whole season. This chemistry proved vital to the team’s success. After losing the first two games of the season, Andover grew tremendously. A key to its success, which somewhat faltered in its Exeter game, was the team chemistry. “We started the season as individual basketball players and became a basketball team,” said Billy Draper ’08. “We showed a strong desire to win,” said Captain Bramwell. “Everyone all season has been giving themselves up entirely for the team and Andover Exeter was no different. Everyone gave their best effort, and that’s all anyone can ask for.” Next year’s Varsity squad has big shoes to fill, as Andover will return only two key players, Mike Palermo ’08 and Brian Watson ’08. The team will look to the younger talent to fill the remaining spots.