LAWRENCE, Mass. -– In its first three games the Central Catholic girls basketball team averaged 69 points, but over the Raiders' previous four outings they were only able to average 46.3 points.
Sadly for Andover, the Raider offense found its groove again last night at Memorial Gymnasium.
Caitlin Dell'Orfano scored the game's first seven points as the Raiders rolled to a 75-37 win in MVC action. Dell'Orfano finished with a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers.
“We just wanted to definitely take it to them for the times they beat us and didn't stop, didn't let up,” Dell'Orfano said. “It feels good to be back.”
Dell'Orfano set the tone early, scoring 13 points on 5-6 shooting in the opening period, as the Raiders raced to a 23-9 lead and cruised the rest of the way.
Andover was able to out-rebound the Raiders in the early going, but the duo of Amanda Williams and Erica Hadad took over in the paint. They combined to pull down over a dozen rebounds and altered even more shots. Williams pumped in 14 points.
“They're pretty tough down low, tougher than most people think,” Dell'Orfano said. “Amanda is the player a lot of people underestimate most of the time. I know how good she can be; I full confidence she can be as good as she can.”
Central's rotations of guards wreaked havoc on Andover for all 32 minutes. When Dell'Orfano hit a cold spell over a large chunk of the third quarter, Courtney Walsh stepped up. The senior scored six points in the third and quietly netted 13 during the game.
“We all have confidence in each other,” Dell'Orfano said. “When one of us is down the others can pick it up. I knew at halftime [Walsh] hadn't really scored a lot and she usually does. Our gameplan was to get her involved, get her into it.”
The Raiders emptied the bench early in the fourth quarter and still finished the game on a 12-2 run over the final five minutes. Central coach Sue Downer said she was quite pleased with the performance of her club.
“Tonight was the first complete game we've honestly played all season,” Downer said. “It was good to see the kids and respond to the challenges that we gave them. It's good to come out make a bit of a statement tonight that we are a good team.”
Andover closed the gap to seven early in the third quarter, but the Raiders finished the frame on a 21-5 run. Alyssa Casey led Andover with 13 points, and Colleen Caveney added nine of her own.
Thirteen days ago the Raiders suffered their lone setback of the season, a physical 49-42 loss to Westford. However, Dell'Orfano said that her and the team used the loss as a motivation that has sparked their current five-game win streak.
“I think Westford was a turning point for us,” Dell'Orfano said. “We really had a reality check that we weren't going to win every game. We had to work a lot harder in practice and we pushed each other.”
With the schedule not getting any easier, Central has two games against Billerica over the next two weeks, Downer said that she liked being able to build success off of losses like the one against Westford.
“I'm a huge believe in losses make you a better team,” Downer said. “I think they realized they couldn't just walk on the court and beat these teams. We've got to do better.”