Andover’s Boys’ Basketball team fought valiantly in the second half of last Saturday’s match-up, outscoring Exeter with significant help from the sharp-shooting of post-graduate Tom Lavin ’08, who had a team-high 21 points. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to come back from a tough first half, and Andover dropped its last game of the season to its archrival, 73-45. The biggest game of the year for the young Andover team started well, as both teams traded buckets back and forth for the first six minutes of the game. It was by far the most packed game all season for the team, as both bleachers were packed with fans and the walls were lined for the rivalry match-up. With ten minutes left in the opening half, Andover held the 9-8 lead. From there, however, Andover struggled to control the ball on offense and collapsed on defense as Exeter slowly gained momentum. Exeter took the lead in the next minute on a short jumper, and never looked back, going on a 37-4 run to finish off the first half. Andover was hurt most by turnovers, committing 17 on the game that turned into numerous Exeter fast break points. On offense Andover struggled to find openings for clean looks at the basket, and only four players scored for the first half in which the team netted just 13 total points. After the 45-13 halftime deficit, however, Andover settled in and started to gain some momentum of its own. On both sides of the ball, the team began to box out and get more rebounds, which it had sorely missed in the first half of play. By the end of the game, the team had an impressive 15 offensive boards. Lavin took control in the second half, sinking four threes and scoring 16 of his points. Co-Captain Mike Palermo ’08 also heated up for Andover, scoring nine points and grabbing four rebounds. Khalid McCaskill ’10 helped out with five points. Andover turned up the defense as well, slowing down the Exeter attack and preventing fast breaks. By the end of the half, Andover had outscored Exeter, 33-28. Exeter was an extremely talented squad, packed with 13 senior players and two uppers. The team has rolled to its best record in school-history, as Exeter compiled a 17-4 overall record, and is headed to the Class A playoffs ranked as the sixth overall seed. The Andover loss was the ninth straight for Boys Basketball in the annual Andover-Exeter rivalry, Andover’s last win coming in 2000. Last year, Andover’s playoff hopes were brought to an end against Exeter, after one of the best seasons in the past decade for Andover. Andover was simply overwhelmed by the experience of the significantly older Exeter squad. Andover’s young team had just two returning players. For most of the team’s players, it was their first experience of the Andover-Exeter rivalry. The game wrapped up the 2007-2008 season for Andover, which finished with an overall 4-17 record. However, the season was invaluable for the young team, as it looks to build experience in hopes of future success.