Recap: No. 17 Lawrence 54, Andover 38

LAWRENCE, Mass. -- With just under six minutes to go and his team up by 8 points Friday against Andover, Lawrence’s Tre’von Farley stole the ball around the Andover three-point line and sent a long pass ahead to a sprinting Franklin Martinez.

Seeing no one in front of him, he already knew what he was going to do. He skied to the rim and threw down a one-handed drunk, bringing the home crowd to it’s feet. That put a charge into his team, which stretched its lead to double-digits in the remaining minutes, eventually leaving the gym with a 54-38 victory.

“Once I saw Tre’ get the ball, I ran,” said Martinez, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. “I wanted it. It was there. I didn’t see anybody on me but I did see someone out of the corner of my eye, but then I was like, ‘Who cares?’ and threw it down.”

With the crowd behind it and a new-found energy, the Lancers (10-3) went into attack mode. On the very next Andover (8-5) possession, Yadoris Arias took the ball away from an Andover player and passed it ahead to Roberto Speing in transition. As he brought the ball into his offensive zone, he passed it to a cutting Farley, who got fouled going up for a layup.

Martinez even kicked up his aggressiveness. For a player perhaps more known for his jump shooting, he started taking the ball strong to the hoop, sometimes taking on as many as three Andover defenders to do it.

“I started taking it to the basket to be aggressive, because I knew that they are too slow, so I started attacking more,” he said. “I was getting hit, and wasn’t always getting calls (from the referees) but it’s okay because at the end of the day, we won.”

It was a productive game for the senior, who is making the most of his playing time this year after failing to see the floor much last season.

“You know what he does well? Not only is he a good shooter, but he gets to the hole and he finishes,” said Lawrence coach Paul Neal. “He has a nice little mid-range game so it’s really hard to cover him. He’s smart enough to know when he’s not hitting those shots, that he can find other ways to score.”

Complete game effort still needed: Although they ended up winning by 16, there’s a feeling within the Lawrence team that it hasn’t put a full game together yet. It puts quarters of good play together, but there hasn’t been a full 32 minutes of quality basketball played yet this season.

For example, Friday it held Andover to 13 points in the entire first half. That was with one player, Sam Dowden, scoring 10 of those 13. He finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds. Then late in the third, its lead was cut to 6 points, only to have it go back over double-digits in the fourth.

As the season rolls along, there are positive signs, but still a lot of team growth necessary, especially as the season begins to wind down.

“We always have one good half, but we haven’t put together a full game yet,” said Martinez. “From the first quarter to the fourth quarter, we haven’t done it yet. But in the fourth quarter, we always seem to come together and we seem to end up good. In the third quarter every team comes back so in the fourth quarter we just push and play more defense. Tonight in the third quarter we didn’t really play defense. It’s like we get the lead so we just slack off. In the fourth quarter, we always end up picking it up.”

Even sheet: One of the encouraging signs for Lawrence is there was no one standout scorer. Multiple players contributed to what Neal felt was a team effort. Farley lead the way with 13 points, but Martinez was right behind him with 11, while Arias had 10, and Argenis Reinoso had 6.

“It was a balanced night offensively,” said Neal. “When you have a balanced team, people can’t scout and prepare for you. Who are you going to prepare for? Who’s the big scorer? Who are you going to stop? If they all have around the same amount of points, you can’t. I like that better. I like when we score with balance and no one guy dominates. We certainly have the potential for some guys to take over on any night, but I think tonight if we did that, we might not have won the game.”

Fueled by loss: Rarely ever will a coach admit that a loss is a good thing, but in Lawrence’s case, it might have just been one. Coming into it’s Sunday matchup against Boston Cathedral, Lawrence was 8-2 and riding high in the Merrimack Valley Conference Large behind only Central Catholic. The Lancers lost 73-69 that day, showing the team that their record may not have been indicative of where they were as a team.

“A loss is never good, but I think it really shifted their mindset,” said Neal. “I think they were starting to believe that we were really good, and we’re not good. We’re a team that has to work hard to be good. For us to win, we need hard work, and I couldn’t get them to practice hard. Even going into the Lowell game (a 62-57 win on Jan. 20) we went in really frustrated.”

“The practice after that Cathedral game was terrific. We played defense. In the game after that we held Tewksbury to 24 points (in a 63-24 victory). I don’t care who you’re playing against, if you can hold them to 24 points, you must have played well defensively.”