Janneke Evans ’18 power-dribbled, drop-stepped into her defender and banked the ball into the hoop as her defender hacked her arm. Evans sunk her free throw to complete the three-point play and to jump start Andover’s rally late in the second half of its game against Governor’s. Andover Girls Basketball’s comeback effort, however, was not enough. The team fell 37-28 in its first game of the season. The team struggled to gain offensive momentum and play as a cohesive unit.
“I think our main weakness was not having played together before. We had very little time to gel as a team,” said returner Laura Bilal ’17.
The team boasts seven new players to its 14-player roster: Post-Graduates Courtney Erickson ’15 and Gadson Lefft ’15; Upper Sydney Baumgardt ’16; and Juniors Teagan Thompson ’18, Molly Katarinc ’18, Bailey Colon ’18 and Evans. Evenly split between rookies and returners, the team will need time to develop strong camaraderie on and off the court.
“With such a large amount of our team being new, it takes time to develop some chemistry together and learn our plays. We aren’t yet at the point of really knowing our plays,¨ said Head Coach Lani Silversides.
Captain Cara Cavanaugh ’15 added, “We haven’t had much practice time to work on our offense against a man-to-man defense.”
Andover initially struggled to score against a tough Governor’s one-on-one defense. At halftime, Governor’s led 15-5.
“Our biggest challenge was just not finishing our shots. We had really good looks but a tough time finishing,” said Silversides.
Cavanaugh added, “We couldn’t get the ball to go into the basket. It was as simple as that.”
Andover followed halftime with a newfound surge of momentum. A fortified 2-3 zone defense coupled with more precise shots resulted in a significant recovery.
“We really stepped up in the second half by concentrating on our shots. We also got into a rhythm on defense, resulting in a lot of steals and forced shots by Governor’s. Our strong defense translated to a better offense,” said starting point guard Emma Kelley ’17.
Cavanaugh added, “We started to convert some of our shots into points, and we were getting more used to playing with each other.”
Bilal added, “In the second half, we came out strong and really held them down with good defense. If we had made half of our shot opportunities first half, the game would have been ours.”
Although the team did not stage a full comeback, Andover scored 23 points in the second half — more than four times what Andover scored in the first half. Erickson and Lefft led the team in scoring with eight points each.
Last year, the team got off to a rocky start, with two returning Senior starters tearing their ACLs before the first game. Despite its early losses, Andover eventually finished the season with a satisfying victory over rival Exeter.
“We were inconsistent [last year] but greatly improved over the season. We struggled with getting the ball to post, which is something that we are really focusing on this year,” said returner Victoria Bergeron ’16.
Though the team graduated five Seniors last year, Andover has a group of strong, experienced returners and skilled newcomers this year.
“This year we definitely have more talent,” said Ravenne Nasser ’15. “All of our young players have a year under their belts and adding [Post-Graduates] to the roster never hurts.”
Encouraged by its surplus of talent and strong leadership, Andover is determined to win the championship and finish with a strong, winning record.
Nasser continued, “This season we want to win the championship. That’s what our goal is and what we will be working toward all year.”
Silversides added, “I’m really excited about the potential of this team and all the growth I think can happen from the start to finish of our season.”
Andover will challenge Loomis Chaffee this Saturday in hopes of claiming its first win of the season.