Inconsistently hitting its shots, Andover Basketball was streaky in the second half against Milton Academy, grinding out a nail-biting 66-57 win. Co-Captain Tom Palleschi ’12 ferociously ripped down his 1000th rebound in the first half and repeatedly sank basket after basket to give Andover the lead.
Joining a small group of players who have earned 1,000 rebounds, Palleschi said, “Getting my 1,000th rebound was a surreal feeling. I heard the crowd scream ‘1000!’ as I pulled it down and got chills down my spine.”
The game was neck and neck from start to finish. Neither team was willing to back down physically.For this reason, the 6 foot 9 inch Palleschi lead the way for Andover offensively and defensively. He finished the game with 14 points, 18 rebounds, three blocks and five assists.
The offense flowed through Palleschi. LaBaron Sylvester ’12 said, “The game-plan was to get the ball to Palleschi and then back out to our shooters on the perimeter.” The strategy paid off because Andover was able to drain most of its shots and shot 51 percent from the floor as a team.
At half time, the both teams were deadlocked at 27, and it was anyone’s game at the start of the second half. Unlike Milton, Andover came out of the break with a sense of urgency and quickly took a lead.
Andover’s concentration lapsed, however, and poor free throw shooting allowed Milton to creep back into the game. As a whole, the Andover shot 11 for 25 from the line.
Rory Ziomek ’13 commented, “We really need to work on our free-throw shooting, and continue to improve our rebounding and defense to shut teams down.” Christian Jaster ’12 noted, “We missed 14 free-throws. If we make only half of those, we win by almost 20, and it’s a whole different game.”
With Milton closing in, the team leaned on point-guard Sylvester, who was able to hit a pair of important shots down the stretch to help Andover pull ahead. Sylvester finished the game with 14 points, five assists and three steals.
Glad to have won against such formidable opponents, Palleschi said, “The win was huge for us. Every win is. We need to have the best record we can possibly have to ensure that we’ll make the playoffs.”
Looking back on the season so far, Jaster said “We have improved gradually. The ball runs with less effort and mentally opponent’s runs don’t discourage us. Those are things we want to and do improve during practice: work on our team play, sharing the ball to keep the defense busy and staying mentally stable and consistent on the court. It’s all about consistency.”
On Wednesday against Governor’s, Andover came dangerously close to winning but missed many great opportunities to score in the last minute of the game and lost the game 56-55.
“They didn’t beat us; we lost,” said Palleschi. “After this loss, we basically have to win every game in order to make the playoffs.”
The team looks to improve its record against Deerfield on Saturday.