In the final two minutes, in danger of losing its fifth consecutive game, Andover Boys Basketball managed to clinch an 84-73 home victory against Deerfield following a 52-61 away loss against Worcester. Andover capped off the week with a “gritty” victory against fourth-placed Milton to follow its four-game losing streak with a two-game winning streak. This latest win takes Andover’s record to 5-6.
According to Jordan Rayford PG’22, Andover did not expect such a close win against Deerfield. Ultimately, the team’s togetherness in the last two minutes spurred it onto a victory.“I think everyone thought we were going to blow them out, and I think how we stayed together [stood out]. I think we were losing [with] two minutes left… we were down by one or something like that, and I think how the team and people playing stayed together and kept playing hard… was probably the most impressive thing,” said Rayford.
Despite a loss against Worcester and a win against Deerfield, Head Coach Terrell Ivory ’00 believes Andover performed better in the former game. He believes fatigue may have played a part in Andover’s performance against Deerfield in which it gave up 21 turnovers.
Coach Ivory said, “Actually, I think we played better against Worcester. What I’ll say is that playing better doesn’t always mean you’ll win, right, depending on the competition. And I’ve always told the guys that if we play hard and lose, I’m happier than if we don’t play hard and don’t play with effort and we win. [Against] Deerfield, actually, there were a couple of things that… contributed to that game being closer than maybe I thought it would be, but they were better than I thought they’d be. They played hard and it was also back to back. We played on Friday night against a really good team, so the guys were understandably a little bit tired. I loved how hard we played and the way we played against Worcester even though we lost because they were really really talented.”
Rayford says Andover was able to play without fear at Worcester in spite of its reputation as a talented team, to the point that he believed the team could clinch the win at the end of the game.
“I think also against Worcester, [we] had a lot of hype going into it, and we knew they were going to be good and how we didn’t really play scared. We kind of just went in and played as hard as we could, and I thought we were going to win that game honestly. They ended up winning, but I thought that was impressive,” said Rayford.
Over the two weekend games against Worcester and Deerfield, Andover boasted a 36.7 percent 3-point field goal percentage and a 55.6 percent effective field goal percentage (eFG%). Rayford believes this was a result of Andover’s shot selection.
Rayford said, “We talked about not forcing threes. I think sometimes we get kind of trigger happy from the 3-point line and I think TI has just told us not to do that and kind of get good shots or great shots rather than just okay shots. So yeah, I think we have been focusing on not just shooting any shot or just a good shot.”
Andover had a 71.4 percent eFG% against Deerfield compared to 47.0 percent against Worcester; Coach Ivory believes shot selection was an area in which Andover excelled against Deerfield but struggled against Worcester. He highlights the performance of Colby Duggan ’23 from inside the three-point line, with an 88.2 percent 2-point field goal percentage against Deerfield.
Coach Ivory said, “I don’t think we took as many good shots as we took against Deerfield. Deerfield, I think our shot selection was better, particularly Colby when you’re 15 for 17 from two-pointers. Right. And then [Eric Tynes ’22] in the first half, I don’t know how many threes he had, but he had a number of threes in the first half [and] ended up with eight for the game. So, yeah, we definitely made shots against Deerfield.”
Rayford played his first game in over a month against Milton. Colby Duggan ’23 highlights Rayford’s comeback as a key to Andover’s win against Milton.
Duggan said, “[Rayford]’s probably our best rebounder and then when the ball is in his hands I just think he takes good care of it, and then he’s like a leader on the court too.”
Speaking ahead of Andover’s win against Milton, Coach Ivory noted how the team missed the “gravity” of Jordan Rayford ’22 through his on-court leadership and ability to drag opponents out of position.
“I think [Rayford]’s definitely about our best defender. He’s also a person who can help others. He sort of has this… gravity. I think he has that and the ability to create for others because people are so concerned about what he’s doing, whether it’s him scoring or whether it’s him creating shots for other people by getting into the lane and kicking the ball out. But I would say leadership as well. I would say [defensive] leadership and his ability to help the team get better shots, whether it’s his shot or him creating shots for somebody else [was something we missed],” said Coach Ivory.
Duggan hopes to carry on the momentum Andover has gained from a two-game win streak for the rest of the season.
“It felt really good. Before break and then a few games after break, we were on a little skid. Now two wins in a row… is huge for us to gain momentum and they were a really good team, played together, so that was a big win.”
Andover will look to extend its win streak to three as it welcomes Loomis at home on Friday.