Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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March 13, 2014

Warrors fall just short in North Final

Andover High had all but snuffed out any offensive spark Central Catholic had left on this region’s grandest stage.

The Golden Warriors, a higher seed but an underdog in this one, were on the verge of history, leading 43-38 into the fourth quarter last Saturday night at Tsongas Arena in Lowell.

But Central senior Tyler Nelson had his own kind of history in mind, nailing four fourth-quarter three-pointers — all from well beyond the arc — to lift the Raiders to a 59-53 victory and their second straight Division 1 North championship.

Central went on to overpower Catholic Memorial 79-66 on Monday night,

But before Central got to the TD Garden in Boston, the Raiders had to fight off Andover. The lead bounced back and forth all game until the Raiders edged ahead for good with 4:24 left.

Andover, which will enter the 2014-15 season as the clear-cut favorite in the North with the return of three all-leaguers, battled to the end.

Conference co-MVP David Giribaldi, seeing waves of Raider defenders, soared skyward and swished a baseline jumper, then made 2 of 3 free throws when he was flattened on a three-point try.

And when freshman E.J. Perry IV buried a trey inside the final minute to slice it to 54-53, the Warrior fans heeded coach David Fazio’s pleas to erupt.

“You have to give so much credit to Andover, I mean they are great kids and they play so hard,” Raider coach Rick Nault said. “They play the game the right way. And when you look at things, we went 2-2 (against the Warriors) this year. We just happened to get this one, which is the big one.”

Giribaldi led Andover with 19 points and Perry IV had 11.

Central Catholic 59, Andover 53

Division 1 North Final

Andover (53): Ryan O’Connell 3 1-3 7, Ben Brown 2 0-0 6, John Pisacreta 2 0-0 4, David Giribaldi 5 5-7 19, E.J. Perry 4 1-2 11, Connor Merinder 3 0-0 6, Totals 19 7-12 53

Central Catholic (59): Aaron Hall 6 1-2 13, Nick Cambio 5 3-3 13, A.J. Pettway 0 9-10 9, Pat Sullivan 1 0-1 2, Tyler Nelson 7 0-0 20, Alex Santos 1 0-0 2, Totals 20 13-16 59

3-pointers: A — Brown 2, Perry IV 2, Giribaldi 4; CC — Nelson 6

Central Catholic (21-5): 12 17  9 21 — 59

Andover (19-5): 11 12 20 10 — 53

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