Boston High School: Jim Tildsley

Boudreau leaving behind quite the legacy

March, 18, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. — Jim Tildsley can remember the first time he saw her.

He remembered seeing a young girl — maybe no older than the fourth grade, he recalled — firing up perimeter shots at an ease that was maybe a little more advanced for a young person with that kind of strength.

But there was Nicole Boudreau, honing a craft that will put her in the history books as maybe the greatest player to don an Andover Golden Warriors jersey, and maybe one of the better players to grace the hardwood in Massachusetts -- with gender totally thrown out the window.

So when that girl was old enough to get her first taste of varsity action for Tildsley, the obvious decision was to get her directly into the starting lineup.

“Nicole from the start I knew she was going to be a great player,” said Tildsley. “I’ll never forget the first game against Tewksbury and they were supposed to be very good that year, and she comes out in the first quarter and wracked three 3's. I said ‘Boy we’ve got a good one.’ She’s a winner and a great player.”

Four years after that first appearance, Boudreau goes out as one of the most decorated players in recent history. Three straight Div. 1 state titles — the most recent coming on Saturday night at the DCU Center in a 61-45 victory over Holyoke — 2,200 points and two straight Mass. Gatorade Player of the Year awards can be found on her resume.

“I came in as a freshman and I was trying to get better as a basketball player and as a person,” said Boudreau. “Mr. Tildsley preaches that it’s not all about basketball and it ends at some point, so you are going to have to become a great person too.”

Boudreau has made a name as one of the deadliest shooters in all of Massachusetts, again throwing gender completely out of the equation.

She possesses a quick release and a talent to let an effortless bomb fly from just about anywhere on the court (see her halfcourt shot at the Garden last year) without breaking her form.

But what might set her apart is her ability to exhaust her opponents by running tirelessly around the court, through double teams and around screens, just to get a miniscule amount of airspace to let a dagger fly.

“It’s been consistent and she’s been getting better and better every year,” said Tildsley. “The first two years she was just more of a 3-point shooter. Her junior year she came back and had the drive, and now she put that 15-foot jump shot in. She put all the tools together and she’s just an unbelievable player.”

Boudreau may have saved one of her more complete performances for her grand finale with a 31-point, 11-rebound performance on Saturday. With Holyoke hanging around in the early stages of the fourth quarter, she launched a deep shot — directly in front of Tildsley — into the net and drew the foul for a four-point play.

The Golden Warriors never turned back in the game, and at the 1:01 mark it was over for Boudreau.

Waiting at halfcourt was fellow four-year starter Ally Fazio, and a quick trip down to the end of the court was the waiting arms of Tildsley, the coach who remembers the girl before she was Miss Basketball.

Div. 1 Girls Final: Andover 61, Holyoke 45

March, 17, 2012
Nicole Boudreau Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comNicole Boudreau exploded for 27 of her 31 points in the second half as Andover captured its third straight Division 1 state title.
WORCESTER, Mass. -- It isn't often when the Andover girls basketball team runs into an opponent that can match its speed and quickness. But as they so often have proved over an amazing three-year run, the Golden Warriors' strict attention to defense knows no limitations.

Boston College-bound senior Nicole Boudreau led the way with 31 points, 11 rebounds and five steals, while fellow senior Ally Fazio chipped in with nine points -- and turned in a stellar defensive performance guarding two-time reigning Western Mass. Player of the Year, Monique Heard -- to lead Andover to its third straight Div. 1 state championship, a 61-45 victory over Holyoke at the DCU Center Saturday night.

"They've had a target on their back all year, people talking about going undefeated and a three-peat," said Andover coach Jim Tildsley of his squad. "It's so much easier to say than to perform and that's why I'm so proud of these kids. We are just so mentally tough. We're good. I mean we're very talented but, mentally tough...we could have packed it in a couple of times and we didn't.

"That's the kind of kids I have. Nicole and Ally are such great leaders and the other kids feed right off them. I'm so proud. Three in a row, and the icing on the cake is going undefeated."

The Golden Warriors (27-0) had to work for this one as Holyoke (22-3) displayed speed and quickness unlike any they had seen this year. The Purple Knights took a 27-25 lead into halftime following a three-pointer by Kirsy Segarra and a free throw by Heard, while limiting Boudreau to just a pair of baskets in the second.

Rather than wilt under the pressure, Andover instead returned to its defensive roots with Fazio taking the lead role while outscoring the Knights, 16-3, in the frame. Both Fazio and Devon Caveney (13 points) knocked down clutch threes in the third, as did Boudreau to get herself back on track.

"We were down and coming out of halftime we were thinking about keeping our heads up," Fazio explained. "The only way you're going to win a game is to keep your head up and have heart. Everyone's always all over Nicole. Nicole will hit any shot from any distance, she can drive, she can do everything so they're going to be all over her and everyone tells us that we have to be ready to step up whenever the opportunity comes."

Holyoke attempted to claw its way back in the fourth and back to back buckets by Alison Littles (eight points, 15 rebounds) and Kelly Reardon cut the deficit to 10 at 51-41. That's when Boudreau came up with one of her biggest moments, draining a long three while getting slammed to the floor, sitting up and pumping her fist as the ball dropped cleanly through the hoop.

"All throughout the game I didn't really have much space," Boudreau admitted. "They played pretty close on me on defense. When I got a little bit of space, luckily I could hit the shot and at the time it was a pretty big shot because they had some momentum going their way and it kind of stopped."

That would be as close as the Knights would get the rest of the way as Boudreau, Caveney and Fazio combined to go 7-for-7 at the free throw line down the stretch.

Heard showed why she has been held in such high regard throughout her career, finishing with a team-high 17 points. But Fazio made her expend every ounce of energy she had and tired enough so that just seven of those points came in the second half.

"Ally said from the beginning that she wanted to cover (Heard) and we had total trust in Ally that she could do it," said Boudreau. "We knew she was going to make her points and make some plays but I think Ally contained her pretty well. As long as she didn't score 30 or 40, we did pretty well. Can't say enough about Ally."

Added Fazio, "Honestly she is the best player I've played against the whole entire season. I was not ready for that at all. I knew she was good but she was very very good. She is so fast. If you give her too much space, she'll just shoot it and if you get too close she'll just go right by you.

"This was the biggest challenge of my whole career. My job for this game was to stay on her. We knew going into it she was their best player so my job was to stay on her. I can't really force her left or right because she's good at both so I just had to play her straight up and play physical."

Div. 1 Girls: Andover 54, Braintree 39

March, 14, 2012
BOSTON -- Nicole Boudreau's eyes lit up as she stared down her defender and paced the floor.

Working around the perimeter, the senior stepped forward, eased back again, and followed through just gracing the net for three. The next play Boudreau called for the ball again, and with one quick release nailed another planted 3-pointer to drive her team ahead for good, on the way to a 54-39 win over Braintree (24-1) in Division I state semifinals.

It had taken a simple blocked layup to light a fire in Boudreau in the final minutes at TD Garden yesterday, but two-time defending champs do not let little defeats go unnoticed.

“I just want to win,” said a grinning Boudreau. “When you're down, you have to step up, and my teammates trust me. I am a competitor.”

Andover (26-0) will have a chance to defend its state title when it plays tomorrow night's winner of the Division 1 Central/West semifinal between Wachusett (18-3) and Holyoke (21-2), at the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday.

After trailing most of the first three periods, the Golden Warriors came out swinging in the final quarter and never looked back. A lay-in by sophomore Rebecca Alois off a bounce pass from Boudreau to open the period gave the Merrimack Valley champs a 35-34 lead they would never squander.

After assisting a pair to put her team ahead 39-36 at 5:30, the Boston College signee nailed a pair of treys with four minutes left to pull her team ahead by by nine as the Golden Warriors rolled to victory.

“We told each other we did not want this to be our last game,” said Boudreau. “We started to make some shots. When it comes down to it, I know I need to try to make plays for my team.”

Entering the game with a starting lineup that included three freshman, Braintree attacked the boards early to score the first six points and exit the first period up 13-7.

However, Andover senior Ally Fazio responded by draining a pair behind-the-arc to even the game early in the second. A fade-away finger roll by Boudreau put the Golden Warriors up 20-17 a couple minutes later.

“(Braintree) did a good job on the wings and just played their two big kids in the paint,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “They had a great press breaker and made some pretty good passes. (Boudreau) is probably one of the best ever to come out of here and she proved it tonight.”

With Braintree scoring off lobbed counters to freshman Molly Reagan (10 points), the teams stayed within one score throughout the third period. A three-point play off a boxed-out layin in from senior Paige Marshall sent the Wamps into the final period up 34-33.

“Everything we do is contact and physical,” said Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell. “(Paige) did shut (Boudreau) down. The only time she got some looks was coming off some screens.”

D1 North Girls: Andover 61, Masconomet 53

March, 10, 2012
LOWELL, Mass. --- On Saturday night the Andover High School girls basketball team captured their third straight Division 1 North sectional championship as they defeated Masconomet 61-53 at Tsongas Center in Lowell.

The top-seeded Golden Warriors (25-0) came out firing as they hit six 3-pointers in the opening quarter to open up a 21-12 lead. Boston College bound senior Nicole Boudreau nailed three 3-pointers, junior Devon Caveney drained two and senior Ally Fazio added one to begin the shooting frenzy.

“We shot the lights out in the first period and that was a big difference,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley.

Masconomet (20-4) hung tough through the first half behind the strong play of seniors Danielle Davis (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Brooke Stewart (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals).

Andover took a 33-21 lead into the half, behind 21 first half points from Boudreau and some successful full court pressure defense that held Masconomet to only nine second quarter points.

“It is an advantage being as small as we are,” said Tildsley. “We jump switch everything because we are all the same height and everything is within our rotation.”

Andover came out of the halftime break relentlessly attacking the glass as they dominated the rebounding margin in the third quarter 13-7. Many of those rebounds were converted second chance opportunities as Andover found every loose ball and extended the lead to 41-28 after three quarters.

“I was very impressed with our offensive rebounding tonight,” said Tildsley.

Masconomet fought hard and did a good job of hanging tough as Stewart scored nine fourth quarter points and Davis added seven to cut into the lead.

“Brooke is a great player,” said Boudreau. “We held her down as best we could and she made a run in the third and especially in the fourth quarter, but we expected that.”

Every time Masconomet would inch closer, however, Andover would come up with a big shot to push the lead further out of reach. Fazio (10 points) and junior guard Angelice Gonzalez (seven points) each nailed 3-pointers and Boudreau (game-high 29 points) converted four end-of-game free throws to cap the win for Andover.

Alois on the Glass: The tandem of sisters Jackie (11 rebounds) and Rebecca Alois (nine rebounds) dominated the glass for Andover as they came away with many second and third chance opportunities for Andover that resulted in additional opportunities for shots and made baskets.

“What can I say about them,” said Tildsley. “They do all the dirty work for us and I do not know how many offensive rebounds we got tonight.”

Although the sisters combined to score only three points it was their effort on the 50-50 balls and on the offensive glass that paid the most dividends.

“They are huge,” said Boudreau. “They get most of our offensive rebounds and with that we get more opportunities to score.”

Senior Strong: Masconomet graduates four of their five starters in seniors Stewart, Davis, Chelsea Nason, and Taylor Evans. Nason scored nine points and Evans scored five points, grabbed five rebounds, played stellar defense and was all over the floor chasing loose balls for Masconomet.

Masconomet’s lone returning starter is junior Claudia Marsh, who scored nine points and did a fine job defensively covering Boudreau in the second half.

Back to the Garden: Andover looks to take home their third consecutive Eastern Massachusetts Division 1 championship on Tuesday as they play Braintree High School (22-2), who upset top-seeded Franklin High School 51-46 in the South sectional finals on Saturday.

“We have Tuesday night and if we hopefully win we will have Saturday,” said Tildsley. “It is just an unbelievable accomplishment what these kids have done the past three years.”

Div. 1 Girls: Andover 56, Central Catholic 36

March, 6, 2012
HAVERHILL, Mass. --- Merrimack Valley Conference Large rivals Andover and Central Catholic met again for the fourth time this season in the D1 North sectional semi-finals on Tuesday night. With Andover winning the prior three contests, Andover Coach Jim Tildsley knew this game would present a big challenge.

“We were concerned with them coming in as the No. 12 seed and playing so well, beating two very good teams in Billerica and Westford on the road,” said Tildsley.

[+] EnlargeDevon Caveney
Ryan Kilian for ESPNBoston.comAndover's Devon Caveney scored 12 of her 16 points in the first half to give Andover an early cushion.
Andover did not look concerned on the court, however, as they would come out and take immediate control of the game early and often on their way to a 56-36 victory.

“I am really proud of my kids,” said Tildsley. “There is so much pressure on these kids with everyone talking three-peat, three-peat. They are just taking it a game at a time and coming to every game focused and ready to play.”

Andover (24-0) set the tempo early as they extended their full court pressure defense right off the opening tip. The pressure and aggressive ball denial was effective as Andover held Central Catholic (14-9) scoreless until the two minute mark in the first quarter. Andover led 11-2 until the first quarter buzzer sounded when Central Catholic guard Courtney Walsh drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 11-5 after one quarter of play.

“We came out and stymied them with our defensive pressure,” said Tildsley. “That was the whole key to that game. We had to come out during those first four minutes of the game and really play and we did.”

The offensive star on the night was Andover junior guard Devon Caveney, who scored 12 of her 16 points in the first half.

“It is all about confidence,” said Tildsley of his junior guard.

Andover’s Nicole Boudreau saw constant double teams on the evening as Central aggressively tried to take her out of the game with varying gimmick defenses and aggressive ball pressure.

“They were triple-teaming Nicole so one of us had to be open,” said Caveney. “I knew I had to hit those shots if we wanted to get the lead going and I did.”

Caveney converted three separate three-point play opportunities, with the most impressive being a baseline 3-pointer to start the second half that she drained while hitting the floor after contact. She made the free throw, completing the four-point play, which continued the second half momentum for the Golden Warriors and put the game well in hand.

Central Catholic received strong efforts on the night from junior center Casey McLaughlin (10 points, 13 rebounds), sophomore forward Amanda Williams (seven points, 11 rebounds) and sophomore guard Walsh (nine points).

Miss Stat Sheet: Boudreau definitely knows how to fill up a stat sheet as the reigning ESPN Boston Miss Basketball found ways to dominate the game without having one of her typical high scoring evenings.

Boudreau scored a game-high 17 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, dished out five assists to go along with six steals and five blocked shots on the evening.

“Nicole made some great passes tonight.” said Tildsley.

Two of her best passes came in pressure situations with three Central defenders draped all over her. She had the presence of mind and strength to thread the ball, both times, through the entire defense to open teammates under the basket on the opposite side of the court.

Central’s Youth: Central Catholic will only be better when the ball is thrown up for the 2012-2013 season opener. They return all but two seniors and the future looks as bright as the past has for the Raiders.

McLaughlin is only a junior and has been playing regularly since her freshman year. Walsh and Williams are both sophomores. They also return sophomore defensive specialist Alex Nagri, junior sixth-woman Darion Summers and five other underclassmen who all saw playing time at various points in the season.

Another Title Run: The elephant in the room for the Andover girl’s basketball program is their impressive late season undefeated record and their prior two seasons Massachusetts State Championships.

The road to their third consecutive state championship does not get any easier as they will face the winner of Thursday’s other D1 North semi-final match-up between Lincoln-Sudbury and Masconomet. The sectional finals will be played at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Mass. on Saturday as a part of a big day of sectional finals for the North sectional girl’s and boy’s basketball championships.

Div. 1 Girls: Andover 52, A-B 35

March, 2, 2012
ANDOVER, Mass. -- Andover’s Nicole Boudreau receives the most publicity of anyone on her team, and deservedly so. It’s hard not to pay attention to one of the most consistent scorers in Massachusetts, especially when she scores over 2,000 points for her career or sets her school’s scoring record, like she did Friday night.

Years from now, Andover’s 52-35 win Friday over Acton-Boxborough to move on in the Division 1 North tournament might be remembered as the night Boudreau became Andover’s all-time leading scorer with 2,099 points.

In the present, it will be remembered as a game where the team rose up around Boudreau and made the plays it needed to win.

She still had an impressive performance (20 points, seven rebounds, two steals, three blocks), but it was contributions from players like Jackie Alois (11 points, four rebounds), Rebecca Alois (seven rebounds, five steals), and Ally Fazio (eight points, three steals) that showed why Andover (23-0) is undefeated and favored by many to win the Division 1 State title again this year.

“My team won us the game,” said Boudreau. “It wasn’t about one player today. The Alois’ worked so hard tonight. Rebecca got a bunch of key rebounds. I had a bunch of assists to Jackie and Rebecca because they were trying to double me and other people, so Jackie had a lot of points tonight and we needed it. When everyone works like that, it takes a lot of the pressure off of me, off of Devon (Caveney), and everyone else. They won us the game tonight.”

Andover came out with a full-court press on A-B (13-8) that was smothering at times. When it worked successfully, trapping the ball handler along the sideline, it often lead to turnovers. A-B turned the ball over 20 times in the game.

When it was unable to get the ball, Andover forced A-B to take contested and off-balance shots around the basket.

“Defense is our whole thing,” said Andover coach Jim Tildsley. “We like to press teams and that’s how we win. We’re so small that we have to go to the full-court the whole game and you can see that my kids are in great shape. They can play the whole game and not get tired. They’re physical and they’re mentally tough, but we still have a long way to go.”

Just a speed bump: Towards the end of the first quarter, Andover lead 18-6. Then, with two 3-pointers from A-B to end the quarter and begin the second, it became a six-point game. Coupled that with an Andover cold shooting streak, and before you knew it, it was a close four-point game midway through the quarter.

However, with it’s defensive pressure creating opportunities for it that its offense couldn’t, Andover was able to hold A-B to one basket over the final four minutes and take a 10-point lead into the half.

“(Pressure) was a huge goal in what we were trying to do to beat this team,” said Boudreau. “We knew Elizabeth Belanger (12 points, 10 rebounds) is a great player, so we had to shut her down and we wanted to get her tired. Our full-court pressure does that to people and I think our pressure is what won the game for us tonight. We got a lot of key turnovers and they had a hard time scoring. It really helped us.”

Eyes on the Warriors: At this time of the season, everyone knows who the top seeds are some people would want nothing more than to see them lose. Especially when it comes to Andover, who is looking to win its third Division 1 State Championship in a row. One couldn’t blame them if they felt added pressure, with a metaphorical target on their back for the rest of the state to try to hit.

“Do you think (it feels like there’s a target on my back)?” said Tildsley sarcastically. “There’s a lot of pressure on my kids. It’s pressure, but we like to play under pressure. There’s a ton of pressure on us because everyone’s out to get us. I can’t blame them either, I’d be wanting to beat us too. You saw how tough Acton-Boxborough played tonight. They would have loved to beat us tonight, but fortunately we came out on top.”

Boudreau thinks that having that late-season familiarity is more beneficial than pressure-filled.

“I don’t really think there’s pressure on us,” she said. “We’re all used to being in this situation and we have a goal in mind and we just want to get to it. We all have a pretty big advantage being in this situation. Everyone’s gunning for us, so we have to be on top of our game.”

Up Next: Andover moves on to the Division 1 North Semifinals, where it will face Merrimack Valley Conference foe Central Catholic. As of Friday night, it was unknown where or when the two teams would play each other. The No. 12 seed Raiders knocked off the No. 4 and 5 seeds in the D1 North bracket, Westford and Billerica respectively, to get the opportunity to play unbeaten Andover.

Andover beat Central three times during the regular season, each by double digits. But this isn’t the regular season anymore. In a tournament setting, on any given night, one team can play above expectations or extremely below them.

Tildsley won’t be taking Central lightly, especially since when they beat two higher seeds to get to where they are now.

“Central is a very good team, especially with (Casey) McLaughlin coming back, that’s going to be one heck of a game,” he said. “We’ll be ready to play on Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever we’re playing.”

Recap: No. 1 Andover 63, A-B 50

February, 21, 2012
WESTFORD, Mass. — The entire regular season has been building up for this moment for the Andover girls basketball team.

The Golden Warriors (22-0) capped off their regular season unscathed after defeating Acton-Boxboro, 63-50, in the championship game of the Grey Ghost Classic at Westford Academy on Tuesday night.

Nicole Boudreau filled the stat sheet with 21 points, nine steals, seven rebounds and five assists to take out the team the Warriors beat in the Div. 1 North finals last season.

The question was asked about the Warriors ability to pull off their third championship in a row immediately following their triumph last year at the DCU Center, and the unquestioned leader of the team was ready to address the so called elephant in the room.

“We know we are going to have a tough battle to try and three-peat,” said Boudreau, who finished as the tournament MVP. “I think we are both mentally and physically ready for it. We are going to take every game as it comes.”

Jim Tildsley doesn’t have to dive too far into his game film from the season to show his team the effort other teams will have in store for the Warriors. The Colonials (13-7) have good size at every position, and are one of the strongest defensive teams in Div. 1. That strength was on display, as they held the Warriors to 19 points in the first half.

Boudreau only had four points on 1-of-11 shooting and the Warriors were 1-for-10 from behind the 3-point line.

“That was very, very physical,” said Tildsley. “I think in the second half we kind of tired them out a bit.”

The three-point shot that was lacking was on display in the second half. As Elizabeth Belanger (25 points, 10 rebounds) was singlehandedly taking care of the offensive output in the third quarter for the Colonials, the shots started to fall for Tildsley’s bunch.

Ally Fazio (10 points) hit two 3-pointers to open up the scoring for the Warriors, and Boudreau finally connected from deep to tie things up at 28.

The Warriors went on a 10-1 run to begin the fourth quarter as Devon Caveney scored six of the points in the run.

Range...Enough Said: If you watch Boudreau shoot before practice when she has the time to take shots from anywhere in the gym, her form never changes.

It doesn’t matter if she’s practicing midrange jumpers or effortlessly practicing shots from halfcourt.

That range was on display again in this one.

Boudreau saw the shot clock winding down, and despite the fact that she was roughly 32-feet away from the basket, she didn’t hesitate with her shot and hit nothing but net to put her trademark on the win as the bucket gave the Warriors a 53-39 victory.

Despite all the missed shots in the first half and the sizeable distance between the hoop and her that would probably make some coaches bite a towel like Jerry Tarkanian, Boudreau has the confidence to take the shot and for the most part make it too.

“My teammates have confidence in me to shoot it wherever I am,” she said. “That helps a lot when everyone is cheering you on to shoot it. If someone says not to shoot it, then you are kind of questioning it. In big time situations when the clock is running down I like to have the ball in my hands and hopefully do something good with it.”

Colonial Defense Solid: For three quarters, the Colonials made life difficult for Boudreau and company from any spot on the floor.

The final score was not indicative of the close game that was going on for 24 minutes, as the two teams were playing a back-and-forth basketball game for the majority of the night. Boudreau was having a hard time shaking free of Abby O’Brien in the first half and the rest of the Colonials did a solid job of closing out on the other Warriors outside threats.

“It was like a four-minute lapse,” said Colonials head coach Kim Landry. “All night we closed out on shooters and there was a short lapse when we didn’t.”

Recap: No. 1 Andover 64, No. 14 Billerica 42

February, 14, 2012
BILLERICA, Mass. -- This time it was different.

After outlasting No. 14 Billerica by one point three weeks ago, the No. 1 Andover girls’ basketball team got on top of the Indians early Tuesday night, and big, winning 64-42 in the rematch to sweep the season series.

With the win, Andover moves to 19-0 and takes a commanding lead of the Merrimack Valley Conference's Large division over Billerica, its nearest competitor, with at least two games to go in the season.

Andover was determined to put the pressure on Billerica (14-3) from the start of the game by coming out in a full-court press. It forced three turnovers off the press in the first quarter, each of which it was able to turn into points. Its defense was so stifling that it limited the Indians to one basket in the whole quarter.

“Our pressure hurt them,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “It hurt them in the first game, we just didn’t hit the shots. In this game, we hit the shots. We shot the ball extremely well and it gets frustrating for them because we keep getting turnovers. Our defense was unbelievable.”

Andover had a 17-2 lead after the first quarter, mainly due to the successful sharpshooting of Boston College signee Nicole Boudreau, who had 12 of the 17 points.

While she made her usual presence felt on the offensive end with this 31-point performance, Boudreau was stout defensively, with six steals and a block. She had the assignment of guarding Billerica’s Joslyn King, who was noticeably inches taller than Boudreau.

“(Defense) is how we win basketball games,” she said. “You see us out there and I’m the tallest girl at 5-9 and that’s not tall at all, so defense is really where we win our games. Coach Tildsley tells us every game that that’s how we’re going to have to win it, so when we pressure them and we get turnovers, that’s how we get easy buckets.”

“They scored two points in the first quarter just because of our defense, so when we get out quick like that, there’s not as much pressure on us to score at the end of the game when we have a little bit of a lead,” she added.

Danielle Nickerson lead the way for Billerica with 11 points and 8 rebounds.

Billerica made a charge in the second quarter and even cut the lead down to 10 points with 1:30 left, but Andover still held strong and took a 31-18 lead into the half.

After hitting a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game, Billerica’s Brittany Lomanno let out an emphatic fist pump, showing how crucial it was at that point to keep the game within reach.

Andover came out in the second half with its foot still on the pedal with its full-court trap defense. With that, it was able to create more turnovers and extend its lead even more, putting the game well out of reach on its way to victory.

Nearing another milestone: Boudreau, long recognized for her scoring prowess, now sits 11 points shy of 2,000 for her career with at least two games to go in her season. It was obvious from the outset that she was going to have a prolific scoring night Tuesday. At halftime, she had 21 of her team’s 31 points, most of which came from 3-point range.

During one possession in the third quarter, as the shot clock was winding down, her team was struggling to get a shot off. With the Billerica defense draped over them, Andover looked for anything remotely resembling a clean look at the basket.

As each team had players trying to gain possession of a loose ball, Boudreau picked it up and let go of a shot with one second on the clock. It swished through the net in an “I meant to do that” kind of moment.

“She’s averaging about eight steals a game,” said Tildsley. “Her last four games, she’s been playing unbelievable. She’s almost been averaging a quadruple-double.”

Cold shoulder: Some might find it to be an odd coaching move, but Tildsley did not show his team the video of its previous game against Billerica until two days before it was scheduled to play them again.

While some coaches may have used the tape as a motivational tool to get their team to practice harder or as a way of driving home a point, he put it away until he felt they needed to see it again.

“I didn’t show them the tape of the last time we played them until two days ago,” he said. “They just watched it and saw that we didn’t play very well at our home place and didn’t shoot it well, but they were pretty confident coming in. They were ready to play tonight.”

Alois sticks it on 'D': While she may not have filled up a lot of points (four) in the scorebook, Andover’s Jackie Alois made her presence felt with her eight rebounds and three steals.

She was consistently making the contributions to her team that do not show up in the scorebook, like diving on the floor to tie up Billerica players to force jump balls and gain possession for her team. She was also not afraid to go into the paint and mix it up with players taller and perhaps more physical than her.

“You see her and she’s all over the place, she’s unbelievable,” said Tildsley. “For her size (5-foot-6) and what she does- she’s our weakside defender- she just does an outstanding job.”

Recap: No. 1 Andover 53, No. 11 Billerica 52

January, 27, 2012

ANDOVER, Mass. --- The Andover Lady Warriors (13-0) remained undefeated on the season despite a valiant effort from a feisty, upset-minded Billerica squad on Thursday night.

Billerica (11-2) had possession of the ball with 4.4 seconds remaining on the clock, trailing 53-50, but a 3-point attempt fell short and a put back by junior center Joslyn King (14 points, 14 rebounds) was not enough as Andover escaped with a 53-52 victory and sole possession of first place in the Merrimack Valley Division 1 Conference.

Both teams battled back and forth in a game of runs that saw Billerica explode out of the gate to take a quick lead only to see Andover come back to tie the game at 15-15 after one quarter of play. Reigning ESPN Boston Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau scored nine of her game high 23 points for Andover in the opening quarter including two of her six 3-pointers on the evening.

Andover would build a 12 point lead midway through the second quarter but Billerica hung tough behind the strong play of King and junior point guard Brittany Lomanno. Boudreau and junior guard Devon Caveney each stroked two 3-pointers in the quarter to help propel Andover to a 33-28 lead at the half.

The Indians came out of the break and dominated the third quarter as their size and work on the glass disrupted Andover as King and junior forward Danielle Nickerson owned the boards and gave Billerica a hard-fought 41-40 lead after three quarters

“In the third quarter we did a great job of recognizing what they were in,” said Billerica head coach Mike McCarthy. “We had pretty good legs and were able to get the ball up the floor.”

Andover’s various full-court defenses, which disrupted Billerica at times on the evening, finally came through in the end as the Lady Warriors led by seven with 2:38 remaining in the game.

Billerica, as they did all night, would not give in as they took it all the way to buzzer but timely Andover shooting and disruptive pressure defense were too much for Billerica to overcome.

“We do not want to lose,” said Boudreau. “We are the type of ball club that is not going to accept losing so in the fourth quarter, when it is close like that, we like to buckle down on the defensive end.”

Fazio steps up down stretch: Senior Co-captain Ally Fazio's two fourth quarter 3-pointers turned the momentum back Andover’s way each time and helped settle the pace for the Lady Warriors. Fazio struggled from the field throughout the night but hit the two big 3-pointers when it mattered most to go along with her game high six assists.

“Ally hit some big shots at the end and we came out with the close win,” said Boudreau of her fellow Co-captain.

Young veterans lead Billerica: Billerica is led by a talented group of juniors in Lomanno (eight points), King, Nickerson (10 points) and Kayla Leverone (11 points) along with sophomore Shannon Hayes (eight points). Forward Erin Brooks was the team’s lone rotational senior to see time on the evening but Chris Doneski’s squad has been playing together for a couple of years now and their chemistry is evident.

“They are heck of a team,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “They are very good, well coached and give credit to them.”

After going 12-9 last season and losing to Acton-Boxborough in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament Billerica is off to an impressive 11-2 start of the 2011-2012 season.

“I am very proud of the way they played,” said Doneski. “They played their hearts out so you could not ask for more.”

Valentine’s Day Rematch: These two teams will see each other again in a few weeks as Andover will travel to Billerica on February 14 at 7 p.m. in a rematch that could be for the MVC Division 1 championship.

Both Andover and Billerica still have rematch dates with Central Catholic remaining on their schedules but both teams look to be the top of the MVC class and the Valentine’s Day rematch should be another competitive battle.

“This will be a war when we play them at Billerica,” said Tildsley. “That is for sure.”

Recap: No. 1 Andover 53, No. 5 Central 42

January, 6, 2012
LAWRENCE, Mass. --- The Andover Golden Warriors put together a strong fourth quarter defensive effort, holding Central Catholic to eight points in the final frame, to earn a 53-42 win. It was the second game between the two schools this season and the first league match-up between the two rival Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 programs.

“Our defense comes off our offense,” said Andover Head Coach Jim Tildsley. “It was just a great defensive effort tonight. Our offense was sloppy but it was also just the intensity of this game. We have not won here in three years so the kids really wanted this one tonight.”

Andover, who also defeated Central Catholic last week in the Greater Lawrence Christmas tournament championship, remained undefeated on the season at 8-0, while Central Catholic drops to 5-2.

Andover led by one point at the end of the first quarter and four points at the half as Central Catholic hung tough behind junior center Casey McLaughlin’s seven point and 10 rebound first half effort.

In the second half, Andover had a couple of opportunities to extend the lead past nine points but Central Catholic fought hard and converted some fast break opportunities to remain close and down by just five points, 39-34, heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter it was 2011 ESPN Boston Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau, who took over as the Andover star hit three 3-pointers and had a nine of Andover’s 14 points in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.

“Central Catholic is a great team and we knew that in order to beat them you have to hold off as many runs as they give you,” said Boudreau.

Andover also got strong games on the night from junior Devon Caveney (10 points, two steals), junior guard Angelice Gonzalez (seven points, three steals) and senior co-captain Ally Fazio (seven points, three assists).

Central Catholic sophomore guard Courtney Walsh had eight points and six rebounds to go along with three steals and three assists for the Lady Raiders.

The two teams will meet again on Feb. 17 at Andover.

Boudreau Reigns in Second Half: Boudreau scored a game-high 23 points, pulled down five rebounds, dished out two assists, and had one steal and one blocked shot in the win.

The Boston College commit had eight points in the first half, including a crucial three point play with 1.3 seconds remaining on the clock to give Andover momentum and a 29-25 at the half.

In the second half Boudreau came out firing as the senior hit five 3-pointers, including three in the crucial fourth quarter.

“An inch of space, I like, especially against this team,” said Boudreau. “Luckily a couple of them fell. It was not falling in the first but my teammates trusted me to make them when they counted.”

Boudreau also settled the offense down the stretch and made all four of her free throw attempts on the night.

“When she hits those threes they are just like daggers for the opposition,” said Tildsley. “My kids look for her and she gets open, somehow, and just sticks them.”

The 5-foot-9 guard also took home her third straight Greater Lawrence tournament MVP last week in the win over Central as she scored 19 points to lead the Golden Warriors on the night.

Alois’ Intangibles: Andover junior forward Jackie Alois played an exceptional second half as she helped play tight post defense on McLaughlin and was also all over the floor making countless hustle plays that do not show up on the box scores.

“We did not have Jackie in the whole first half as she got in early foul trouble,” said Tildsley. “She does one heck of a job defensively and is just so aggressive."

Alois had six second half rebounds to go along with two steals and one block.

McLaughlin Improving: The Central Catholic junior co-captain had 16 points, 14 rebounds and one blocked shot in the loss.

“She is a heck of a player,” said Tildsley.

McLaughlin continues to make big strides in her game in her third year with the Lady Raider’s varsity team. She was also named to the Greater Lawrence Christmas all tournament team last week along with Walsh, Fazio and Boudreau.

Recap: No. 1 Andover 66, No. 7 Archies 52

December, 21, 2011

ANDOVER, Mass. — Apparently all it takes is one shot to wake a sleeping giant, and that sleeping giant was Andover’s Nicole Boudreau.

The senior sharpshooter awoke out of her shooting woes in the first 16 minutes with a corner three-pointer to begin the second half as she torched Archbishop Williams (4-1) for the next eight minutes in one of the better shooting performances of her career.

Boudreau finished with 19 of her game-high 28 points in the third quarter and drained four of her five three pointers in the period during a marvelous stretch over the final 2:30 to help the Golden Warriors (4-0) take out the Bishops, 66-52, at Dunn Gymnasium.

“That was special tonight,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “You saw something special. That roll that she got on was incredible. She’s a big-time player”

On three of her final four 3-pointers she touched nothing but net. On her second deep ball she stepped back and struck from NBA range. Her final trey came just before the buzzer as her barrage of scoring turned a six-point game into a 55-42 game at the half.

That lead was important, because it took the life out of a feisty Bishops’ squad that seemed to have an answer for every Golden Warriors run in the first half.

“We had a little bit of momentum after the third period,” said Boudreau. “They came back a little bit...But luckily we held them off.”

Overall it wasn’t a great shooting night for Boudreau as she finished 9-of-25 from the field for the game, but she was dead on with a 6-of-8 performance in the third quarter. The Boston College-bound Boudreau also finished with 10 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.

It’s scary to think that the leader of the two-time defending Division 1 state champions could get even better than what she has been already this season as she works her way back from an preseason ankle injury that limited the markswoman heading into the year.

“I’m still trying to work my way back into some rhythm and trying to get my shot back to where I’m making most of my shots,” said Boudreau. “It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll get there eventually.”

Unsung hero on the glass: Jackie Alois will never fill out the stat sheet in the scoring department on a night-in-night-out basis like her teammates, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a key cog in the Golden Warriors arsenal.

Against a much bigger Bishops front-line, the 5-foot-6 junior grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to help keep possessions alive for the bevy of outside shooters donning the same uniform as she.

Those efforts don’t go unnoticed by her head coach.

“She’s such a competitor,” said Tildsley. “She’s got a nose for the ball and she’s got great hands. It’s a pleasure to watch. People are in awe when they see her doing the things that she does on the court.”

In theory and on paper, the Bishops should have had a huge advantage on the glass with four players on the roster topping out around the 6-foot mark. The Bishops did own a 38-34 edge, but it seemed as if they lost the margin by 10 or 15 the way Alois and the other smaller Golden Warriors players were relentlessly diving after loose rebounds all night.

“We had the size over them and they played a great game,” said Bishops head coach Jim Bancroft. “We got dominated on the boards, which was pretty upsetting.”

Sticking around: The loss might sting for now, but the Bishops are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season and for many years to come.

Junior Sara Ryan showed a nice shooting touch from outside with a pair of 3-pointers, and she also showed an ability to get to the hoop to go along with a gritty defensive style. Olivia Conrad and Leah Spencer form a nice combination at the forward position and at 6-foot-3l, freshman Jaylen Williams should benefit from more seasoning as the year goes on.

Just ask the coach of the two-time defending champs.

“They got nine deep,” said Tildsley. “When (Bancroft) subs they don’t lose anything. They are young, they are tough and it’s great for us to play them. It’s an excellent basketball team and they are very well-coached.”

Next up for Andover: Three-peat?

March, 20, 2011
WORCESTER, Mass. -- The three-peat hasn’t been accomplished in Div. 1 girls basketball in more than a decade, but the pieces might be in place for the drought to end after Andover collected the second leg of the feat on Saturday.

The Golden Warriors will feature virtually the same core that drove them to a 27-1 season, and with one more championship next year they would be mentioned in the same breath as the Haverhill team that won from 1994-96.

“We are going to be good again next year when you have the best player in the state coming back and most of the nucleus coming back,” head coach Jim Tildsley said after the Golden Warriors 61-51 win over Amherst at the DCU Center.

Nicole Boudreau will have to try and outdo her impressive junior season. The 5-foot-10-inch junior grabbed the state's Gatorade Player of the Year honors after averaging 22.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.0 steals in the 2011 regular season.

But anytime you get that kind of talent back for a second year, it’s never a bad start.

The question will be if the BC-bound Boudreau can stay motivated after all the success this year, but it was something she quickly rebuffed for her and her team.

“I don’t think our team needs extra motivation,” said Boudreau. “We all know how to pump each other up. We are a pretty competitive group of girls.”

Boudreau will probably need to play the point guard role in place of senior Natalie Gomez-Martinez. The two formed a special backcourt combination over the past few seasons, and the loss of the Golden Warriors floor general will be felt.

“You can’t replace Natalie,” said Boudreau. “She’s been our team leader this whole year. She’s been our point guard. She’s the one that handles then ball. When we are in trouble we give it to her. She makes the right choice. We are going to miss Natalie a heck of a lot.”

Tildsley believes that a slide over to point guard will be a seamless transition for Boudreau.

“She is going to be the point guard,” he said. “It’s her real position.”

Part of the optimism has to come from the play from Jackie Alois in the state final on Saturday. The 5-foot-6-inch sophomore scored 12 points and had eight rebounds in the state final win. The offensive output surprised her a little bit, because her role on this team all year has been to do the dirty work and the little things to help get Gomez-Martinez and Boudreau more touches.

With the talented backcourt fronted for most of the night, Alois got behind the defense on back cuts and back screens and showed an ability to finish at the rim.

“I have always been a defensive player,” said Alois. “In the second half I actually turned into a threat on offense. It made me feel invincible. It was so great.”

Added Tildsley: “That second half she was the difference. They were fronting Nicole. They were up on Natalie, so we said the screen-and-roll is going to work.”

The only other senior coming off the roster will be Elon Beasley, and the returning players will be a year older and will have another championship run under their belt. Does that mean that they are guaranteed, no.

Repeating as champion once is tough, just ask the head coach.

“It was tough this year to repeat,” said Tildsley. “I never expected us to repeat. Everyone says you’ve got it made, but it’s a tough, tough thing for high school kids. I just give my kids so much credit. They fought all year and this was a very tough game.”

But that doesn’t mean the team lacks confidence.

“Next year we are definitely excited,” said Boudreau. “We are all going to work our butts off during the offseason to get stronger.”

Andover's winning formula makes it two straight D1 titles

March, 20, 2011

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Andover girls basketball: powered by defense, and state championship ready.

While that may sound like a good bumper sticker to jam on the back of Mom's minivan, it couldn't be more apropos when it comes to discussing the Golden Warriors' not-so-secret winning formula.

Taking the adage "defense wins championships" to another level during the 2011 Division 1 girls basketball tournament, Andover capped a great postseason by forcing 23 turnovers and getting clutch contributions on defense from Ally Fazio and offensively from sophomores Devon Caveney (14 points) and Jackie Alois (12), the Golden Warriors put the hammer down on Amherst in the fourth quarter and claimed their second consecutive Div. 1 title with a 61-51 over the Hurricanes Saturday at the DCU Center.

"We knew coming into the game that defense was how we were going to win," said senior guard Natalie Gomez-Martinez, who snared seven of Andover's 18 steals. "Offense just comes. Defensively, you have to have heart and physical aggression. When you have this close of a game, even if you’re exhausted, you have to go all out on defense. We made big steals, we made free throws and it showed how when you want to win a game, it’s all about defense."

Andover found itself trailing, 47-45, in the opening minute of the fourth quarter before going on a 10-2 run to not only grab the lead back, but pull away for good. After a Nicole Boudreau bucket, Caveney drilled a big 3-pointer that put the Golden Warriors out front, 50-47. She added another basket off a turnover, then added a free throw after a Boudreau runner.

Amherst stopped the run with a hoop, but Alois sealed the deal, taking a pretty feed from Boudreau off a pick-and-roll play that effectively sealed the victory.

"Devon and Jackie stepped up huge," said Boudreau, who scored a game-high 18 points. "We had total confidence that they could and we gave them the ball in situations, especially on pick and rolls for Jackie, where we knew we could get it to them and they would finish or get fouled. They won us that game in the fourth quarter."

Through the first game three quarters, the game was a downright battle. Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, but defense for Andover and the rebounding of Amherst's six-foot center Forbasaw Nkambo (13 boards in the first half) kept things tight.

In the third, it appeared as though Andover was starting to pull away, as a Boudreau three ignited a 9-2 spurt that pushed their lead to 41-33. Rather than wither under the pressure, the Hurricanes mounted a comeback courtesy of a 12-4 run over the final 2:43 of the third to tie the game at 45-all.

Ultimately however, it was the Golden Warriors relentless pressure defense that finally got the better of Amherst.

"That's our game. We know we’re small and we press hard on defense. We thrive off turnovers," said Andover coach Jim Tildsley. "We put Nicole on the back line because she’s a great anticipator and we have Natalie and Ally up front all over the ball. Devon and Jackie both read well so we have a great full court press. We’re also able to switch our presses and that confuses teams, which helps us a lot."

In addition to her outstanding defensive work, Gomez-Martinez chipped in with 10 points for Andover. Brianna Leonard paced Amherst with 16, while Nkambo added 15 points and 18 rebounds and Kristen Ferola finished with 10.

Fazio tips Andover back to DCU

March, 14, 2011

BOSTON -- Less than a minute left, down by four, New Bedford is inbounding the ball and all they can think about is scoring another basket, making it a 6-0 run for the Whalers. Ally Fazio from Andover had another plan; steal the ball, get it into Nicole Boudreau’s hands, who will score the final four points of the game from the free throw line, sealing the 54-46 win for Andover tonight at the TD Garden.

“Ally is a huge part of this team,” said Andover junior guard Nicole Boudreau (28 pts, 12 rebounds, five steals, two blocks). “We know she has great driving skills, and offensive skills, but we really need her for defense. She’s a great on the ball defender.”

“I’m really confident in Nicole shooting foul shots for us,” said Fazio (6 points, four rebounds). “We got a pretty good lead… so I was confident.”

Early in the third quarter, New Bedford (23-1) took the lead on an Alexia Barros (17 points, eight rebounds) three pointer. Nicole Boudreau tied it up at 31 with a field goal, but then the Whalers’ Brianna Perry (eight points) and Barros both scored, putting New Bedford up by four at 35-31.

“I could see my kids dropping their heads a little,” said Andover coach James Tildsley. He then called a time out. “‘Hey, we’re getting good shots, we’ve just got to hit them,’” Tildsley told the girls during the break.

Lo and behold, they started hitting shots. By the end of the barrage, the Golden Warriors (25 -1) outscored New Bedford 14-2 for the remainder of the quarter, going up 45-37 heading into the fourth quarter.

“I thought we were carless with the basketball on two or three occasions, which led to easy baskets that didn’t allow our defense to set,” said New Bedford head coach Mickey Gonsalves. “When it comes down to it, seems like that could have been the difference in the game.”

New Bedford’s 5-foot-11 Arielle Gomes had 16 rebounds and ten points, but Tildsley was proud of his 5-foot-5 sophomore Jackie Alois who he felt did a good job on Gomes.

“She got her tired, but she is a great player,” added Tildsley, after praising the resilience of the entire New Bedford team for staying in the game.

The fourth quarter was even scoring wise, with both teams scoring nine, but six of Andover’s nine came from Boudreau who was 4-6 from the line in the quarter, 8-10 for the game.

“I probably got more assists than points,” said Natalie Gomez-Martinez, who literally jumped into the Will McDonough media room, tapping the door frame as if it were a backboard. She was correct, as she had 10 assists and five points. But she was OK with her shots not falling, as she felt comfortable playing her role. “I’m a playmaker first, then a scorer… I had a low scoring game, but I’d rather have the win.”

Besides dishing out dimes to her teammates, Gomez-Martinez spent some face time with the famed parquet floor making sure that her team had the chance to make their shots.

“She wasn’t hitting her shot, and those will come, but she didn’t drop her head,” said Tildsley. “She had a great defensive game on Roach and she kept us together. She gets after those loose balls. She hits the floor too. She wants to win.”

“I usually carry [the hustle] throughout the season but tonight was definitely more special,” said Gomez-Martinez. “Playing my last game here at the Garden as a senior, when we were close in the game, I tried going all over the court and just play my heart out, because who knows, it could have been my last game. So I don’t regret anything, I went for loose balls and I did all that because that’s my game, and it was awesome.”

Boudreau steps up as Andover downs A-B

March, 11, 2011

BOSTON -- Amid the flurry of a 7-2 Acton-Boxborough run to start the contest in tonight's Division 1 North final at TD Garden, Andover head coach James Tildsley bellowed a simple request to his squad on the floor -- and, to Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year Nicole Boudreau in particular: “Wake up.”

Upset with his team’s effort following the opening tip, Tildsley called a timeout with over five minutes to play in the opening frame, immediately calling out his star player for an apparent lack of focus.

“I was really giving her the business,” Tildsley said. “She wasn’t covering her girl and she threw up a couple of bad shots. But one thing about her is, she responds. I can really get in her face, and she knows. And she goes out and executes.”

And from that point on, the defending state champion Golden Warriors began asserting themselves, ending the first half on a 31-15 run and withstanding a late, fourth-quarter run by Acton-Boxborough to prevail, 57-51.

Boudreau recounts the episode: “Mr. Tildsley looked at me and said, ‘You’re playing like absolute crap.’ and hey, I couldn’t argue with him,” Boudreau said. “I didn’t really come out and play the way I could. I love when Mr. Tildsley gets in my face and tells me stuff like that because it just encourages me even more. I knew I had to step up.”

Andover (25-1) now faces South sectional champion New Bedford on Monday night for a spot in the State Championship game.

More than anything, offensive displays from Boudreau and A-B's Elizabeth Belanger were at the focal point of this sectional matchup. Belanger accrued a team-high 25 points (16 in the second half) to go along with 13 rebounds and two steals. Her counterpart, who was limited to three points through the first eight minutes, put together a game-high 34-point performance, highlighted by a buzzer-beating three pointer before the half from mere feet inside the mid-court line.

She then walked toward her teammates, her pointer finger stoically raised in the air.

Entering the second half, Boudreau hit her team’s first two field goals (both three pointers) to conclude a 9-0 run by herself. Minutes later, Belanger had her turn, registering an unanswered eight points in a row for the Colonials, while also drawing a fourth foul on Andover senior guard Natalie Gomez-Martinez (eight points, three rebounds) with 3:38 to go in the third.

“It definitely became a different game because Natalie is one of our leaders out there,” Boudreau said.

Thankfully for the defending champions, adjustments made without Gomez-Martinez allowed them to enter the final stanza up by 17 points.

Yet the Colonials proved resilient, battling back in the fourth behind five points from senior guard Hannah Foley (11 points, four steals) and eight from Belanger, who reentered the game in the second half after getting kicked in the head diving for a lose ball midway through the second quarter.

With about three minutes to play, the Colonials cut Andover’s lead to seven at 56-49, but couldn’t move any closer until Belanger hit a layup with mere seconds remaining to produce the final score.

“We come out in the fourth quarter, and in the first four minutes, we play unbelievable,” Tildsley said. “I’m looking and we’re up 19. I look again we’re only up ten. You’ve got to give [Acton-Boxborough] a ton of credit. They’re well coached and they battled the whole game.”

Acton-Boxborough (20-4) outrebounded Andover 37-27 in the game, and 9-5 on the offensive glass.

The Warriors recorded 11 steals and constantly pestered Acton-Boxborough in the backcourt with its 2-1-2 trap defense, mainly through pressure from junior guard Ally Fazio (Four points) and Gomez-Martinez.

“Making steals and running,” said Gomez-Martinez. “That’s our game.”

The head coach agreed.

“The key to the game was our pressing defense,” Tildsley said. “Every time we got a good pressing defense we got turnovers and we capitalized off the turnovers. We’ve been doing that all year. I mean, we’re not a good set-offense team. We’re a team that has to really press and score off of our press.”

All told, the showcase of Boudreau and Belanger on this stage will be remembered, said first-year Acton-Boxborough head coach Kim Landry.

“Any time you can get two marquee players in a matchup in this sort of atmosphere is great. It’s great for basketball. It’s great for the fans. It’s fun for coaches in terms of strategies."