With one second left on the clock, shooting guard Emma Kelley ’17 crossed her defender and hit a jump shot from the left elbow to secure a 44-18 lead against Milton at halftime. Spurred by Kelley’s 20-point contribution, Andover Girls Basketball went on to earn a 70-46 victory in front of a packed crowd at home on Saturday.
Andover entered the game roaring with energy and confidence after three consecutive wins.
“We came in off a great win on Wednesday and wanted to continue our win streak, and it helped to have a lot of fans cheering us on,” said forward Courtney Erickson ’15.
The team maintained control of the ball and secured a comfortable lead for the entire game, but Milton combated Andover’s momentum and emerged with a vengeance at the beginning of the second half.
“In the second half, [Milton] came out pretty strong and played a tough man-to-man press, and we struggled to rebound well,” said Assistant Coach Christopher Jones.
Kelley added, “We kind of thought we were going to have the second half in the bag, which didn’t end up happening, but we stayed ahead of them and were confident in the end that we were going to take the win.”
Andover focused on mastering its full court 2-2-1 press to shut Milton out offensively. This, in turn, translated to Andover’s best offensive performance of the season.
“The 2-2-1 press was much more efficient than in the Brewster game. We got a lot of steals off of it in the first half, and overall, it led us into a better 2-3 defense,” said Kelley.
Jones added, “We played particularly well with our press, which allowed us to score a lot in the first half.”
Andover greatly reduced its number of turnovers by making smarter passes.
“We didn’t turn the ball over very much compared to other games, so that was really crucial,” said Jones.
On Wednesday, Andover’s four game winning streak fell short by a single point to Thayer at 39-38, bringing its record to 4-6.
The team struggled to match Thayer’s deluge of three-point baskets in the first half because of slow switches between the guards and forwards in the 2-3 zone defense.
“Our switches were slow around the perimeter of the defense. 18 of their 24 points in the first half were three-pointers, so that speaks to how much they beat us behind the arc,” said guard Gadson Lefft ’15.
“We didn’t get as many steals off of our press as we did against Milton,” added point guard Sarah Humes ’16.
Ultimately, Andover shifted to a man-to-man defense in the second half to combat Thayer’s offense.
“The man-to-man defense helped shut them down a lot. We were faster to the ball and always made sure that someone was guarding their shooters,” said Humes.
On offense, Andover struggled to find the basket and scored fewer three-point baskets relative to its other performances this season.
Lefft said, “We took good shots, but they just didn’t fall like usual.”
Andover entered the game low on energy, which contributed to its sluggish start.
“We came out slow and didn’t bring a lot of intensity,” said Lefft.
Laura Bilal ’17 added, “We lacked energy on defense and couldn’t find our rhythm as a team.”
Despite the close loss, Andover remains positive and is determined to win its game against Deerfield on Saturday.
“We are going to use it as motivation and come out strong,” said Bilal.