Co-Captain Tom Palleschi ’12 dished the ball to a cutting Rory Ziomek ’13, who laid up the tying basket with mere seconds on the clock. Palleschi’s assist, along with his astronomical 37 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, boosted Andover Boys Basketball into a thrilling overtime against defending league champion Choate, only to fall 70-67 at the overtime buzzer. The day before, Andover crushed Belmont Hill 63-49.
In the Belmont Hill game, Andover came out of the locker room fired up and quickly built a lead. Powered by a 26 point performance from team Co-Captain Ryan Hartung ’12 and a 12 point, five rebound performance from Palleschi, Andover took the lead in the first half and never looked back.
In the second half, Andover kept up its offensive barrage. Brendan O’Connell ’13 contributed eight points and eight rebounds to lead the team to a 63-49 victory.
Coach Modeste said about O’Connell, “His rebounding this year is indicative of his drive and dedication to improving his game. He’s put in a lot of hard work in the weight room and it showed [against Belmont Hill.]”
Andover headed into Saturday’s match-up against Choate riding a wave of confidence.
Andover’s offense was potent from the start, and relied heavily on a red-hot Palleschi who shot 84% from the field. With Palleschi carrying the load, Andover left the court at half-time leading by double digits.
Early in the second half, however, Andover’s offensive production sputtered as Choate revamped its defensive strategy to contain Palleschi. With Palleschi under heavy defensive coverage, Choate seized its opportunity and grabbed the lead.
Andover battled back to bring the game within reach. Down by only five points in the final minutes of the game, Andover put on the full-court pressure and forced Choate to turn the ball over.
O’Connell seized the ball and sunk a clutch 3-pointer to bring the game within two points. After Choate missed two key free throws that could have put the game away, Andover was left with one last chance to tie the game back up before the buzzer. Labaron Sylvester ’12 sped the ball up the court and found the now heavily covered Palleschi. Instead of electing to take the shot himself, Palleschi found Ziomek, who proceeded to force the game into overtime.
With only four minutes of time put on the clock, both teams battled heavy fatigue to grind out a win. As the back-and-forth overtime period came to a close, Choate found itself with just one chance to get the game-winning shot.
Choate inbounded the ball to its star player, who deftly evaded Hartung’s tight defense and drained the game winning 3-pointer.
When asked about the extremely close loss, Coach Modeste said, “Choate is the defending champion and a powerhouse in the league. Three years ago, this game wouldn’t have even been close. It’s good to have come so far.”
Andover seeks to bounce back from this tough loss when it takes on Milton and Tabor over the weekend.