Co-Captain Eric Alperin ’15 crossed his defender, stepped back and knocked down a three-pointer in the face of his Avon Old Farms defender, bringing his tally to 17 points. His performance was crucial in Andover Boys Basketball’s 50-36 win over Avon in its final game of the Seacoast Challenge, a tournament for boys’ high school basketball teams in the New England area over December 19 and December 20.
Andover struggled in its first day of play when it faced a tough Suffield Academy lineup. After an early run by Suffield, Co-Captains Sam Glazer ’15 and Alperin helped bring Andover within a few points of the lead.
An injury to starting center Nick Forti ’15 proved costly for the team in the second half, and the team struggled to compete for rebounds against Suffield’s forwards. The height disadvantage proved to be too large for Andover to overcome, and ultimately, the team lost 55-37, with 24 points coming from Alperin and Glazer.
Later that day, Andover used its tough loss to fuel its performance against Nobles. Taylor Beckett ’17 shifted into the starting lineup in wake of Forti. Andover shot out to an early 20-10 lead within 15 minutes of play.
In the second half, the team struggled to rebound and defend. Before the tournament, Coach Terrell Ivory ’00 introduced a new defensive scheme, which Nobles managed to exploit in the latter part of the game.
Repeated turnovers weakened the team on offense. Nobles tied the score in the waning seconds, and an Andover error on the inbounds play sent the game into overtime.
“We were tired and went into overtime. It was the second game of the day, and we struggled to find baskets towards the end as we allowed their momentum [to carry] them through the final minutes,” said Alperin.
Ivory emphasized the team’s need to work on ball control. “We need to work on taking care of the ball, because turnovers put us in positions we really don’t want to be in. We need to hold onto our possessions and make shots,” he said.
During a very competitive overtime period, Andover maintained a comfortable lead. However, when leading by just two points with 15 seconds left on the clock, Andover allowed multiple costly offensive rebounds, and the Nobles captain sunk a three pointer at the buzzer to win the game. Andover lost 49-48 to end the day.
Glazer had an impressive season high of 22 points.
“It would’ve been nice to win the second game, but we just have to deal with [the loss] and focus on the next [game],” said Andrew Reavis ’17.
In its third and final game of the Seacoast Challenge, the team was determined to end with a victory. Again missing center Forti, returning Senior Kurtis Weber ’15 filled in his role and added four points to Andover’s 17-0 run in the opening minutes of the game. Beckett had seven points in the first half and contributed greatly to Andover’s comfortable 25-6 lead at halftime.
Alperin said, “As a team, we finally got into a rhythm. We built off the rhythm from the previous two games and started to pick our spots. The defense gave me the opportunity to make dribble plays to the basket and mix and match to make shots, passes and find open teammates.”
Reavis added, “After we started to get into a groove with the new defense, we started to dominate, force turnovers and run in transition.”
The team’s lead allowed all players on the team to receive playing time, helping to develop chemistry. David Abou-Ezzi ’15 said, “It was great that we were able to get significant playing time and really start working together in a game situation. We started getting buckets, and it was a blast to be out there.”
The win at the end of the tournament was important for Andover, as it demonstrated the team’s improvement and gave players hope for the rest of the season.
“I think we were much better, and I think playing against very good teams is going to prepare us for playing teams in our league. While it would have been nice to come out of the tournament with two wins, if we had just finished in that second game. I’m impressed with our composure and strong finish against Avon,” said Ivory.
Andover will face Choate this Saturday.