LOWELL — Shea Krekorian and Brooke Hardock already knew what it felt like to be Division 1 North champions. They just didn’t get the perks that go along with it.
Three years ago as freshmen, they were on the Andover team that got to hoist a Sectional trophy.
Only, they did it on Whittier Tech’s home court, as the traditional North finals site — the Tsongas Center — was being used for the Hockey East tournament.
What more, Krekorian, Hardock and the rest of those Warriors were robbed of a chance to play at the TD Garden in the state semifinal due to a snowstorm and instead lost to Braintree at WPI.
Having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ripped away because of some foul weather hurt bad.
But three years later, now as the lone seniors on Andover’s roster, Krekorian and Hardock made their dream a reality.
The seniors helped lead sixth-seed Andover to a 57-52 win over Cambridge in Saturday’s Division 1 North final under the bright lights of the Tsongas. The Warriors were scheduled to play under the even brighter lights of the TD Garden on Tuesday taking on South champion Bridgewater-Raynham in the state semis.
“It’s just as special winning (the North finals), but it’s kind of redemption that we get the chance to play at the Garden,” said Krekorian. “None of us knew if we’d get another chance to play there.”
Like they have all tournament, the Warriors (18-6) stayed poised under the heaviest of pressure.
Freshman Amelia Hanscom scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the first half to help Andover take a 25-19 lead, but fifth-seeded Cambridge (19-5) cut it to 38-36 after three. Whenever the Falcons — who never took the lead — made a run in the fourth, however, the Warriors always answered.
Like when star Cambridge guards Sophia Vital (21 points) and Kizziah Ruff (16 points) combined for a 5-0 run to tie the game at 42-42, only to have junior Tatum Shaw convert a tough bucket to put Andover right back on top on its next possession.
Or when a Vital bucket made it a one-point game with just under two minutes left, but Shaw (14 points) drained a long 3-pointer to make it 52-48.
And like they have all tournament, the Warriors hit their free throws to ice it away.
“We really just had to band together and work as a team,” said Shaw. “We all believed that we could do it, and we all wanted to win it.”
Right after Shaw finished with that answer, Krekorian was quick to chime in.
“And the composure from our underclassmen, to be able to stay composed in the last couple minutes when we were back and forth,” she said.
And she was absolutely right.
Hanscom was a force driving to the basket in the first half, and fellow freshman Anna Foley, who finished with 12 points and three huge blocks, had a big bucket to put the Warriors up 54-48 with 1:17 left.
“None of us really lost hope,” said Hardock. “We all just had really good energy and kept it through the whole game.”
The Warriors certainly had plenty of energy after the final buzzer, when the entire team swarmed to the River Hawk logo at half court to celebrate their Division 1 North crown. After a season of hard work, and a hard-fought 32-minute game on Saturday, the Warriors and third-year head coach Alan Hibino were presented a title to take back with them to 80 Shawsheen Road.
A title that, for Krekorian and Hardock, was three years in the making.
“It’s awesome,” said Krekorian. “We knew we could do it, and we just had to be disciplined and play tough, and that’s what we did.”
Andover 57, Cambridge 52
Division 1 North Finals
Andover (57): Anna Foley 5-2-12, Amelia Hanscom 7-1-15, Tatum Shaw 5-3-14, Shea Krekorian 2-0-5, Brooke Hardock 5-0-11, Morgan Shirley 0-0-0, Marissa Kobelski 0-0-0. Totals 24-6-57
Cambridge (52): Sophia Vital 8-3-21, Gianni Daniels 3-1-7, Kizziah Ruff 6-1-16, Selah Harris 2-0-6, Ella Simonsen 1-0-2, Desarei Valdez-Silfa 0-0-0, Patricia Merritt 0-0-0, Ciani Taylor-McDonald 0-0-0. Totals 20-5-52
3-pointers: A — Shaw, Krekorian, Hardock; CC — Ruff 3, Harris 2, Vital 2
Andover (18-6): 14 11 13 19 — 57
Cambridge (19-5): 10 9 17 16 — 52
The Merrimack Valley Conference has won five of the last six Division 1 North titles.
2018-19 Central Catholic
2017-18 Central Catholic