Single Shot Decides Play-Off Bid

Andover Boys Basketball enjoyed a rewarding and successful season, improving on 2013’s season with a 9-12 record and a playoff appearance. The nine wins reflected a three-game improvement from 2013, and Andover almost advanced to the second round of the playoffs in Head Coach Terrell Ivory’s second season.

Andover began the season on a promising note, winning its first three games by an average of 15 points, but quickly hit a snag, losing four of its next six. One of those losses included a 55-47 loss to Exeter.

After that Exeter game, Kene Adigwe ’14 said, “We just couldn’t get loose balls. We didn’t make enough effort plays. It just came down to who wanted it more, and I guess they wanted it more today because they made more effort plays and they made less careless mistakes.”

Finding consistent effort from the players this year was sometimes a difficult task for Ivory. The team looked like a title contender for spurts of games, but would often succumb to playing a slow-paced game that did not fit its style.

Andover’s inconsistency led to two three-game losing streaks, but also longer stretches of wins.

Late in the season, with a chance to lock its place in the playoffs, Andover took on Exeter for a second time, looking to avenge the midseason loss.

Andover’s problems with inconsistency throughout the year seemed to vaporize into thin air, as Andover played with full intensity for the entire game. Andover took a 28-24 half-time lead, and with 15 seconds left in the game, Sam Glazer ’15 drew a foul and banked in a tough shot. After making the and-one free throw, Andover led Exeter 55-53 with 10 seconds left.

With one and a half seconds left and Exeter still trailing two points, the Exeter guard missed both foul shots, but another Exeter player on the block snatched the rebound of the second free throw and laid it in to force overtime. In overtime, Exeter outscored Andover 15-6 and took the 2014 season series.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, this year’s Exeter game was one of the most memorable Andover-Exeter contests in recent memory.

“It was so vivid in my mind. It was just one of those games where even now I can still picture almost every play happening in slow motion. It was heartbreaking to lose like that, but it was an incredibly entertaining game,” said Greg Devlin ’14. “I think the atmosphere and the crowd made us play ten or even 20 times harder. That was an incredible game and one that I’ll never forget.”

Andover earned a spot in the playoffs with a 9-11 regular season record and played Hotchkiss in the first round of the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class A Tournament.

Andover started slowly and found itself down 12 points, but rallied in the second half and the game came down to the final shot. Andover’s valiant comeback came up a few inches short, as a desperate heave from Brandon Michel ’14 to tie the game clanked off of the rim.

Despite the disappointing postseason loss, the players are still taking positives from the season.

“I would hope that [Ivory] brings in more big men next year. Sam [Glazer ’15] and Eric [Alperin] ’15 are going to be the backbone and scorers of next year’s team, but I would like to see [Ivory] bring in more big men so we can be more physical,” said Devlin. “My hope is that, over the next few years, we can become a very successful program, and it’s definitely in the making.”

Andover will miss several Seniors next season: Captain Jake Howell ’14, leading scorer Michel, sharpshooter Devlin, Adigwe, Nate Meehan ’14, Robert Rush ’14, Matt Ilalio ’14, Chris Hohlstein ’14 and Andy Hamel ’14 will all be departing the team.

“It’s really up to [the returners] to step up next year. They need to set out their goals for the season and make it clear that we want to be undefeated, beat Exeter, make the playoffs and win a championship,” said Rush.