By Dave Dyer
---- — The head coach is new and many of the players are new as well, and the division they are playing in may not be the one they would prefer. But the Andover girls basketball team looked awfully familiar last weekend.
The unbeat en Golden Warriors (5-0) under first-year coach E.J. Perry played the same kind of ball-hawking defense they’ve been known for over the last decade and they won a title, running over Lawrence 64-34 in the Hyde Division finals of the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic Saturday night.
“It’s just amazing, winning this,” freshman Alyssa Casey said. “I think we came into the season as underdogs and we’ve proven everyone wrong so far.”
The 5-foot-10 Casey has certainly had something to do with the surprisingly strong start as she demonstrated Saturday, scoring 14 points while pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking four shots. She was named to the all-tournament team along with teammates Rebecca Alois and MVP Colleen Caveney.
“It’s really a dream come true for me so far,” Casey said. “It’s been a goal for a long time to start as a freshman, and to do so well (as a team) makes it even better.”
The pesky Lancers (1-3) gave Andover a battle for awhile, pressuring the Golden Warrior guards and staying close in the first quarter, trailing just 12-8 heading into the second frame. But Andover’s superior height, outside shooting and unrelenting defense eventually prevailed.
Andover pressured Lawrence to the tune of 32 turnovers and gave up only 13 field goals all game, and five of those came against the reserves in the fourth quarter. Offensively, Caveney had nine of her 10 points in the first half and Jessica Witten overcame a cold shooting first half to lead the team with 12 of her 15 points coming after halftime. Casey was the only Warrior to score at least one field goal in each quarter.
“I’m pretty happy with the way we played,” Perry said. “I keep telling the girls that we’re like a tick away from being a very good team. We’re getting there.”
As for winning the title in the Hyde Division rather than the more highly regarded Stephenson Division, Perry said: “We have to play where they put us. We’ll play in any division.”
Or, as Casey put it, “A championship is a championship. Hopefully, next year we’ll win the other one.”
Andover 64, Lawrence 34
Lawrence (34): Stephanie Garcia 0-0-0, Genesis Santana 2-0-4, Janel Guillermo 0-0-0, Mariah Lasalle 1-0-2, Emily Ramos 2-0-4, Karla Dominguez 0-1-1, Aria Tate 6-2-17, Karisha Jimenez 1-2-4, Erykah Santiago 1-0-2, Maribel Mateo 0-0-0. Totals 13-5-34
Andover (64): Rachel Cormier 3-2-8, Colleen Caveney 4-1-9, Victoria Roche 0-1-1, Emily Connors 2-0-4, Jessica Witten 5-4-15, Paige Hartnett 0-1-1, Rebecca Alois 3-1-7, Carissa Reming 1-0-3, Erin Nastari 0-0-0, Meghan Stickney 0-1-1, Fatouma Kone 0-0-0, Alyssa Casey 6-2-14, Julia Perry 0-0-0. Totals 24-13-64
3-pointers: L — Tate 3; A — Caveney, Witten, Reming
Lawrence (1-3): 8 5 7 14 — 34
Andover (5-0): 12 14 18 20 — 64