By David Willis
---- — Now kicking off their fourth seasons playing for Andover High, Devon Caveney and Jackie Alois have aced virtually every test varsity basketball has to offer.
Both were members of the Golden Warriors’ three straight Division 1 state championship teams (2010-12), and starters for the last two titles. They have both been All-MVC selections, had tremendous games on the biggest stages Massachusetts has to offer, and celebrated memorable victories on the Boston Celtics’ home court.
But the 2012-13 basketball season presents a whole new set of challenges for the two stars. That’s because this season, for the first time, the two now hold the responsibilities of the Golden Warriors’ go-to players.
“Devon and I have a completely different role we have to fill this season,” said Alois. “We feel the pressure, but I really believe that the more pressure there is the better we are. We have waited so long to be seniors and we feel ready.”
Alois, a gritty forward, and sharp-shooting guard Caveney know they have their work cut out for them this season.
Not only do the Golden Warriors have the giant target of being the three-time defending state champions on their backs, but they enter the season without the school’s all-time leading scorer in current Boston College star Nicole Boudreau (2,200 points) and fellow four-year varsity starter Ally Fazio.
“It would be hard not to feel the pressure,” said Caveney. “This season is a huge transition after losing those girls, and we know that teams are targeting us. And obviously it’s going to be harder. But Jackie and I have seen a lot, and we are motivated to win.”
The loss of record-setting Boudreau — the two-time Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year and Parade All-American — and big shot extraordinaire Fazio would be a tough blow to any team.
But any competitor that believes the cupboard is bare at Dunn Gym is grossly underestimating Caveney, Alois and the rest of the team.
From the time Andover began its three-peat in 2010, Caveney has been a key scorer for the Golden Warriors. The sweet-shooting southpaw entered this season with 809 career points, knocking down 35 3-pointers a season ago.
“I know I have to score even more this year,” said Caveney. “It’s different, but it’s been fun. Nicole was such a leader, and I like stepping into that role and taking on the responsibilities.”
Caveney has been at her best in the big games. As a freshman she scored a game-high 19 points in the Division 1 state semifinals at the TD Garden. She then scored 14 points in the Division 1 state title game in 2011 and last season scored 16 in a key tourney win over archrival Central Catholic and 13 in the state title game.
“Devon is just an all-around player,” said Alois. “She is so resilient. She will play defense so hard, then she can dribble, penetrate and shoot. She has done it all for years.”
While Caveney has been known for her shot, Alois has become a favorite throughout the region because of her aggressive play.
“I love playing with Jackie so much,” said Caveney. “She is the most athletic player I have ever played with. She is 5-foot-4 and gets every rebound. She is so clutch and doesn’t back down to anyone.”
Despite her lack of height, Alois has been a force on the boards for the Golden Warriors since stepping into the starting lineup as a sophomore. She averaged 5.7 rebounds a game last season, and often takes on the task of defending players up to a foot taller than her.
But the multi-talented Alois can also score. That was never more on display than when she scored 12 points as a sophomore in the state title game and her 11-point day in a tourney win over Acton-Boxboro last season. She expects to expand on that role this season.
“It has almost taken me four years to actually be comfortable shooting the ball,” said Alois. “The last three years have let me build a foundation that allows me to step up now. I’m trying to expand my offense. I want to shoot, drive and be more of an offensive weapon than I have the last few years.”
Joining the two stars as a returnee from last year’s starting lineup is Jackie’s sister, forward Rebecca Alois. The 5-foot-7 junior leads a group that will look to step up into a more prominent role this season.
“Rebecca is really stepping up and Lulu (Angelice Gonzalez) has stepped in as a starter this year,” said Caveney. “My cousin, Colleen Caveney doesn’t turn the ball over and can hit her open shots, and we need girls like Abby Katz and Jess Whitten to step up.
“We know this season is not going to be easy, but we are motivated and feel like we can win.”
2011-12 season: 27-0, Division 1 state champion
Returning starters (3): Devon Caveney, 5-8, Sr., guard; Jackie Alois, 5-4, Sr., forward; Rebecca Alois, 5-7, Jr., forward
Returning lettermen: Olivia Biles, 5-6, Sr., guard; Angelice Gonzalez, 5-5, Sr., guard; Abby Katz, 5-7, Sr., forward; Emma Bentley, 6-0, Sr., center; Jessica Witten, 5-7, Jr., forward; Rachael Cormier, 5-4, Soph., guard; Talia Dellatto, 5-7, Soph., forward
Newcomers: Jordan Day, 5-3, Sr., guard; Josie Saiz 5-7, Jr., forward; Erin Nastari, 5-7, Jr., forward; Colleen Caveney, 5-7, Soph, guard
Captains: Devon Caveney, Jackie Alois
Returning leaders: Devon Caveney 10.5 ppg (35 3’s), Angelice Gonzalez 6.0 ppg, Jackie Alois 4.4 ppg, Rebecca Alois 3.4 ppg
Returning honorees: Devon Caveney and Jackie Alois, Eagle-Tribune All-Stars, All-MVC; Rebecca Alois, MVC All-Star
Fast fact: Andover joined Haverhill (1994-96) as the only Division 1 teams to three-peat in the 36-year history of the modern girls state tourney. ... Andover has won 39 straight games since losing to Central on Feb. 6, 2011. ... With the graduation of Nicole Boudreau (BC), it’s looking like possibly a rare rebuilding year, but the Golden Warriors still have three returning starters. ... Devon and Colleen Caveney are cousins.
Assistants: Dick Muller, (assistant); Leo Lafond (JV), Kerri O’Dea (freshmen)
Coach Jim Tildsley (18th year, 360-53): “We graduated two great players (Nicole Boudreau, Ally Fazio). I think we’re going to be pretty good. I love how hard we work. I don’t think many teams work as hard as we do.”