Andover Girls Basketball suffered a heart-wrenching loss in its final game of the season, narrowly losing to Exeter 42-40.
“Our Exeter game was a huge disappointment. We beat them previously in the season and just couldn’t pull it together on Saturday. They used their shooting and driving abilities against us. We were able to stop them, but they simply hit lucky shots,” said Captain Leah Humes ’12.
In the first half, Andover played tight defense and allowed the offense to make some great scoring plays. By the end of the first half, Andover boasted an 18-10 lead.
On one play, Humes stole the ball from an Exeter guard trying to dribble past her and passed the ball down court to Maggie Brown ’13. Brown banked the ball off the glass on a lay-up attempt, and the ball fell right in the hands of Assistant Captain Kaylie William ’12. Williams beat two defenders to get the rebound and put the ball back off the glass for an easy two points.
After getting out to a comfortable lead at halftime, Andover seemed like it would take an easy win.
As soon as the second half began, however, Exeter began chipping away at Andover’s lead. Andover was focusing on using its height to their advantage, shutting down driving lanes and challenging Exeter to shoot from the perimeter, but Exeter’s players stepped up and sunk crucial shots.
“During the second half, when Exeter’s guards started hitting more from the outside, we were drawn away from the basket, and it was tough for us to close down the lane,” said Assistant Coach Lewis Robinson.
With 2:53 left in the second half, Exeter finished its comeback and took a 40-36 lead. In retaliation, Brown drained a three and Alexis Walker ’12 made a free throw to tie the game once again.
After a couple of non-scoring possessions, Andover called for a timeout with 1:45 remaining to devise a plan to take the lead. But Exeter’s defense prevailed, and Andover could not make its shots.
Exeter quickly brought the ball up court and took the lead after an Andover player attempted to steal the ball from the ball handler.
In a final valiant effort, with Andover trailing by two and 15.8 seconds left, Andover put up a three that bounced off the back rim before the final buzzer sealed Andover’s loss.
“The last game of the season came as a huge shock to me and the whole team. We shouldn’t have lost to Exeter. We were the better team out there, and we just couldn’t pull it together in the end. We were fully expecting to be in the playoffs this week, so it was a tough way to end the season,” said Williams.
Despite the loss, Andover is proud of its Senior leadership, which stepped up in a crucial moment. Humes displayed her dominance at the guard position by finding open players, creating plays and gathering assists.
Alex Kiss-Rusk ’12 played shut-down defense, at one point garnering two blocks in just four minutes. Walker led the defense by fighting for loose balls and staying vocal on the court. Williams constantly finished plays and drew numerous fouls.
Looking ahead, Coach Robinson said, “Respect for the game and each other will continue to be central to the team, and rising seniors Amanda Simard [’13], Maggie Brown [’13] and Kayla Maloney [’13] are all athletes who will carry the mantle well.”