Injuries may have led to once-hyped Andover basketball big man Connor Merinder becoming somewhat overlooked by fans, but perhaps no one has been more important to the Golden Warriors’ success than the 6-foot-5 junior.
“Connor is not overlooked in our program,” Andover basketball coach David Fazio said. “He is the mainstay and backbone of our entire team.
“He’s a selfless warrior and only cares about wins. He’s the heart and soul and defensive catalyst of our team.”
The stat-stuffing Merinder is averaging 9.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals for the 3-0 Warriors. The team is ranked ninth in the ESPNBoston statewide poll, six spots behind Central Catholic, who Andover faced in the Licare Division title game of the Commonwealth Christmas Classic on Saturday.
The last time Merinder took on his team’s archrival Raiders, it was the 2013 North semifinals, when he was playing hurt.
“I broke my wrist (scaphoid),” explained Merinder, who had surgery last December. “It took until about February when we found a weird tape job/cast that I could play in. I had to worry about not hurting it again.”
The towering goalie was hurt late his sophomore season in soccer. He thought little of it, though.
“I felt like I just sprained it, but three weeks later it was still bothering me,” he said. “It turns out I had a fracture.”
He said his mother, a nurse, did all sorts of experiments to finally devise a cast that enabled him to play.
“It was layers and layers of tape, a soft cast, then more layers and layers,” he said.
He’s healthy now and wants to continue to live up to his three older siblings, who are all talented scholar-athletes.
Connor is far from the first athlete from the Merinder family to star at Andover High.