Boys Basketball Appears to Hit Stride After Shaky Start; Confidence in Perimiter Play From Palermo Leads to 2-1 Week

Khalid McCaskill ’10 dominated for Andover last Friday, hitting four key free throws down the stretch to ensure a thrilling victory over Milton, 54-51. Andover followed up its success on Wednesday, earning it its second win in three games by crushing Governor’s 53-30 on the road. McCaskill scored a game-high 21 points, and his clutch shooting proved to be crucial in the waning moments of such a close game. Post-graduate Tom Lavin ’08 also came up big for Andover, both on the perimeter and on the boards, sinking 10 points while pulling down nine rebounds. Andover thrived on both sides of the ball, forcing a lot of Milton turnovers and converting on fast-break points on the other side of the court. “The key difference was turnovers,” said forward Tyler Bond ’10. “In previous games we would turn the ball over too much to be able to compete, but against Milton we were smarter with the ball, and that really helped.” The play of the game came with just 16 seconds to play, as Milton drove down the court. Co-Captain Mike Palermo ’08 grabbed a key steal to stop the drive that could have easily erased Andover’s slim 50-48 lead. After controlling the entire game with big lead, Andover gave in to Milton’s pressure late in the second half. Milton, trailing by seven at halftime, pulled to within a point with just under a minute to play on a huge three-pointer that made it 49-48. That’s as close as Milton would get, however, as McCaskill grabbed two huge offensive rebounds, and Palermo stepped up on defense to keep the ball in Andover’s hands and secure the last-minute victory. On Wednesday, Andover continued its success, this time on the road at Governer’s. Andover was off and running right out of the gate, pulling ahead by halftime and protecting the ball late in the game for the 53-30 win. It was Andover’s best defensive game of the year. The team forced turnovers and poor shots throughout the contest. On offense, Co-Captain Palermo led with his sharp-shooting, giving Andover its largest win of the young season. The lone loss of the week was another nail-bitter that was decided in the final seconds, in a heartbreaking 46-44 defeat from Tabor last Saturday. Andover was once again led by Co-Captain Palermo in the game, who was hot around the perimeter, netting five three-pointers for a team-high 17 points, along with six rebounds. Bond also came up big with 12 points, five rebounds, and an assist for Andover. Andover was hurt by turnovers on offense, particularly in the first half, as Tabor capitalized all its opportunities to cash in uncontested points. It was still a promising game for Andover, however, despite the loss. “I thought we did a good job getting the shots we wanted,” said forward and center Tom Hamel ’10. “We got wide open three-pointers and shots near the basket, but some of them just weren’t falling for us.” Andover played its best week of basketball this past week, winning two of its three games, after losing its first five games. Andover has improved dramatically in the past two weeks, compiling a 3-2 record, and preparing the team for a tough away game at Deerfield this Saturday.