Triumph Over Exeter Leads to Playoff Berth

In an exhilarating rivalry game, Andover was able to beat Exeter, opening up a spot for them in the playoff tournament. However, in a tough first round game against Tabor, Andover made a quick exit from the tournament, putting an end to the 2007-2008 season. On Andover-Exeter Saturday, Andover took on its New Hampshire rival for the second time this season. Expecting a close game similar to its last one while having incentive to avenge its loss, Andover came to the court with focus, energy and poise. After losing seven of its last nine games, Andover wanted to finish its season on a high note. And, of course, a win against Exeter would make it all the more satisfying. Leading Andover onto the court were seniors Becca Zinmeister, Hailee Minor, Captain Kelly Fox, and post-graduate Shannon Neschke. This was potentially the last game for members of the class of ’08 if Andover were to lose to its rivals. The only chance Andover had at a playoff appearance was a win in this highly anticipated match-up. The start of the game was tilted slightly in Exeter’s favor. Exeter came out to an early but modest lead with some nice shots. Meanwhile, Andover was struggling to get the offense going. However, Andover settled into the game and eventually found its stride later in the half. After some foul shots and sharp shooting by Kourtney Diperno ’09, Andover found itself emerging as the leaders of the game. By half time, Andover had considerable control of the game, and seemed to be keeping Exeter in check fairly well. The Andover defense was great, and the offense was fairly consistent, leading to an overall solid game throughout. While Andover preserved its lead throughout the second half, the game did seem to be much closer than the scoreboard would indicate. While Exeter hit some big shots in the last few minutes of play, Andover was still able to hang on, defeating Exeter by double-digits. The final score was Andover 48, Exeter 38. Many players had standout performances in this rivalry game. Diperno contributed a solid fifteen points, adding in her fair share as always. Additionally, Ansley White ’10 and Minor showed their aggressive style of play, each grabbing seven boards. Also notable was the double-double performance put up by Megan Robertson ‘11, who posted 12 points and 11 rebounds of her own in her first Andover-Exeter game. Everyone made contributions to this complete team effort in defeating Exeter. The win put Andover’s final regular season record even at .500, with 10 wins and 10 losses. While this might have fallen below expectations from the beginning of the season, the record was sufficient enough to earn Andover a playoff spot. Andover’s first opponent was the undefeated, always strong Tabor Academy. Earlier in the season, Andover suffered a devastating loss to Tabor by a wide margin of 35-59. Hoping to improve upon that and elongate its season, Andover traveled to Marion, Massachusetts with purpose and a goal in mind. However, this game proved to be very reminiscent of the first meeting of the two teams. Tabor dominated throughout the 32 minutes of play, handing Andover a loss by a score of 26-51. Tabor has developed a prestigious girls basketball program, as the team has reach the New England Class A championship game for an astounding six consecutive times. In Tabor’s 2006-2007 campaign, the team compiled a 16-2 record only to fall in the Championship game. With Tabor’s dominating defeat over Andover on Wednesday, the team improved its perfect record to 19-0. Despite having several key injuries in the contest, Tabor showed its toughness by persevering over an always competitive Andover team. In the two match-ups this year between Andover and Tabor, Tabor’s overwhelming size was the clear x-factor in both decisions. In both contests Tabor dominated the boards, a key stat in controlling the tempo of the game. This game marked the conclusion of the 2007-2008 Girl’s Varsity Basketball season. With a final overall record of 10-11, Andover fell just short of .500. While the season might have turned out differently than anticipated, Andover looks to build on some promising young talent for many years to come. Andover will feature five rising seniors in next year’s team to accompany two underclassmen members. Even more encouraging is the fact that all members of the team this past season, not just seniors, made their presence felt. This concept of a team game helped to lead Andover to a well-deserved playoff birth.