This winter, Andover Boys Basketball Captain Jake Howell ’14 will lead a talented and experienced group of players, who hope to improve upon last season’s 6-15 record. The team took a hit when four of last year’s starters—Rory Ziomek ’13, Sahil Bhaiwala ’13, JJ Hayward ’13 and Brendan O’Connell ’13—left for college. Players like Howell, sharpshooter Greg Devlin ’14, power forward Nate Meehan ’14 and shifty guard Kene Adigwe ’14 are ready to take the reins as the leaders of the team, however. The 2012-2013 season was Head Coach Terrell Ivory’s first year coaching the team, and he hopes to learn from his experience last season. “The biggest thing I learned was how talented the other teams in the league are and how good the other players on the teams are. One of the things I loved about the team last year was that they played hard and they did everything that I asked them to do. But sometimes, we went up against teams that were more talented than us,” said Ivory. New Upper Eric Alperin ’15 looks to add an element of explosiveness to the team as point guard, while Germaine Wright ’15 will play a bigger role on the team at guard. Post-Graduates Matt Ilalio ’14 and Brandon Michel ’14, who both impressed on the football field this fall, will try to do the same on the basketball court. “Our Captain, Jake [Howell] is a great leader, not only with the way he plays on the court, but also with his words. I would say the same thing about Matt Ilalio and Brandon Michel. Those are new guys to the team, but I think because of their personalities, they have done a good job of blending in with the rest of the guys. It’s like they’ve been playing together for multiple years,” said Ivory. Already the team has displayed its potential, jumping out to a hot start and winning its first two games against St. Paul’s and Pingree, 60-46 and 67-54, respectively. Alperin led the team in scoring against St. Paul’s with 17 points, propelling Andover to its first win of the season. “We really stepped up our game in the second half. We forced them into a lot of turnovers, and we ended the game on a 20-6 run. I think at one point it was tied at 40, but when we stepped up the defense and started pressing and creating turnovers, we converted off those turnovers,” said Devlin, who finished the game with seven points. While Andover wasn’t particularly efficient from the field, shooting 40 percent, the players sunk most of their free throws, going 74 percent from the line. Andover also outrebounded St. Paul’s 23-21 and managed to stay out of foul trouble. Against Pingree, Howell and Michel scored 11 points each, but it was a defense adjustment that gave Andover the victory. “The key against Pingree was switching to a 1-3-1 zone defense. When we were playing man, they were kind of running right through us. But when we switched, we confused them, and then we took a big lead. Also, hitting our free throws down the stretch was huge in terms of clinching the game,” Devlin said. Alperin was a perfect six-for-six from the free throw line, and the team as a whole shot 84 percent from the stripe, in addition to shooting 45 percent from the field. “Last year, we competed with teams that we couldn’t compete with on paper. Now, we are more talented on paper. But we still have to play hard and execute offensively and defensively, and if we do that, we’ll compete against teams that are really talented,” said Ivory. With these two wins under its belt and a stacked roster full of returners and promising newcomers, the team’s hopes for a successful season look bright. The real test, however, will come Saturday when Andover takes on 3-0 Blair Academy in what will be one of the team’s toughest game of the season.