By David Willis
---- — Andover star Sam Dowden stood in stunned silence as his season — and high school career — hung on the decision of the three referees.
“Being a senior, my whole career felt like it was over for a second when the referees called the shot no good initially,” said Dowden. “I felt like they were going to call it good, but I was still so nervous because everything was on the line on that one call.”
As time expired in the Division 1 North quarterfinal game between Andover and top-seeded St. John’s Prep, Golden Warrior sophomore David Giribaldi drove to the basket and tossed up a shot that would have tied the game and sent it to overtime just as the buzzed sounded.
Was it good? Was it no basket because time had run out?
The referees conferenced, each head coach pleaded his case. The seconds wore on.
“I felt like (Giribaldi) deserved it,” said Dowden. “And for some reason I really had a feeling we were going to overtime. But it felt like forever.”
When the referees emerged, the basket was called good, and No. 8 Andover dominated overtime to shock the No. 1 seed Eagles 62-59 on Friday, earning a berth in the Division 1 North semifinals against Central Catholic.
“We didn’t run a play,” Giribaldi said of the possession that followed a huge baseline jumper from the Eagles’ Josh Syska with seven seconds left in regulation to give the hosts a two-point lead. “I happened to see an opening and I drove to the basket. That’s what I’m good at. I didn’t even know how much time was left. I just went with my gut.”
It all happened in a flash to Dowden.
“I thought coach (David) Fazio was going to use a time out,” he said. “Then I think Jack (Konevich) got the ball and pitched it to Giribaldi. He got it on the wing with like two or three seconds left, and that is about how much time you need to go to the basket.”
The fearless 5-foot-9 Giribaldi did have just enough time, sinking the shot.
“David is one of the most fearless kids I’ve had in my 20 years of coaching,” said Fazio. “The bigger the game, the more fearless he is. I just let the players go. I’ve screwed up so many plays with timeouts … (Prep) wasn’t set up on defense and they’re high school kids, just let them go and if we lose, we lose.”
But the Warriors executed, and in overtime Dowden turned in a three-point play and Chris Dunn hit a pair of key free throws to ice the win.
“We felt really confident in overtime,” said Dowden. “Chris hit some key shots, Greg Dreyfus made some big plays. It was a huge win.”
agateHed:Andover 62, St. John’s Prep 59
agateText:Division 1 North Quarterfinals
agateText:Andover (62):@zzAgate:agateText: Sam Dowden 7 3-3 19, David Giribaldi 4 2-2 12, Jack Konevich 2 5-9 9, Chris Dunn 1 5-8 8, Tyler Verrette 2 0-0 4, Connor Merinder 1 1-3 4, John Pisacreta 1 0-0 3, Greg Dreyfus 1 0-0 2, Max Silveira 0 1-2 1. Totals 19 17-27 62
agateText:St. John’s Prep (59):@zzAgate:agateText: Josh Syska 6 4-6 16, Tyler Dooley 4 8-15 16, Max Burt 4 0-0 10, Drex Costello 3 2-2 8, Jake Burt 1 1-2 3, Max Butterbrodt 1 1-2 3, Ben Judson 1 0-0 2, Quentin Bullen 0 1-4 1, Mike Bisson 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 17-31 59
agateText:3-pointers:@zzAgate:agateText: A — Dowden 2, Giribaldi 2, Pisacreta, Merinder, Dunn; SJP — M. Burt 2
agateText:Andover (16-6):@zzAgate:agateText: 10 12 13 13 14 — 62
agateText:St. John’s Prep (19-3):@zzAgate:agateText: 13 12 14 9 11 — 59