Boston High School: Natalie Gomez-Martinez

ESPNBoston's MIAA All-State Girls Basketball Team

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
9:10
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STARTING FIVE

Guard – Nicole Boudreau, Jr., Andover
The state's Gatorade Player of the Year and Merrimack Valley Conference Player of the Year led the Golden Warriors to their second straight Division 1 state title, and put up impressive numbers in her junior season: 23.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.9 steals, 4.5 assists and two blocks, as the Warriors went 27-1. Boudreau is verbally committed to Boston College.

Guard – Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Sr., Andover
Together with Boudreau, the 5-foot-6 Gomez-Martinez formed the state's most formidable backcourt, and backed it up with some impressive numbers of her own. She averaged 13.5 points, 5.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals as the Golden Warriors won their second straight Division 1 state championship. Gomez-Martinez will continue her career next fall at Division 1 Marist College.

Guard – Blake Dietrick, Sr., Wellesley
The Raiders made a surprise early exit from the Division 1 South tournament, but the 5-foot-11 Dietrick leaves Wellesley as one of the school's all-time greatest athletes. This season she averaged 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.9 steals and was named the Bay State Conference's MVP. She also hit 52 three-pointers this season. She leaves Wellesley with 1,440 career points, and is the school's all-time leading scorer for either gender in both basketball and lacrosse. Dietrick will continue her basketball career next fall at Princeton University.

Forward – Elizabeth Belanger, Jr., Acton-Boxborough
The 5-foot-11 junior continued the momentum from sophomore season, in which she won the Dual County League's MVP, to held the Colonials break through to the TD Garden floor in 2011. After outlasting archrival Lincoln-Sudbury in overtime, the Colonials made it to the Division 1 North final at the Garden, where they lost to eventual state champ Andover. For the season, Belanger averaged 20.5 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.7 steals, and registered her 1,000th point in a D1 North first round win over Billerica.

Center – Tori Faieta, Sr., St. Mary’s
At 6-foot-2, the senior imposed her will around the rim for four years, culminating this season with a Division 3 state championship, the school's first state title since 2003. She was named the Catholic Central League's MVP, and is a four-time league all-star. This season, she averaged 13 points and 11.2 rebounds, and finishes as the all-time leading scorer (1,471 points) and rebounder (1,416 boards) in school history. She will continue her basketball career next fall at Stonehill College.

BEST OF THE REST

Cassi Amenta, Sr., St. Mary’s
Together with Faieta, the 5-foot-11 Amenta formed one of the state's most vicious frontcourts, culminating with a Division 3 state title. The two-time Catholic Central League All-Star leaves St. Mary's as the third all-time leading scorer (907 points), including averages of 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds this season.

Nicole Beresford, Sr., Marshfield
The 5-foot-11 Beresford has been a rock for the Lady Rams since her freshman year, earning Atlantic Coast League All-Star nods in all four of her years on the varsity and earning a McDonald's All-American nod this season. She averaged 22.4 points and 11.2 rebounds in her senior season, and leaves Marshfield as the school's all-time leading scorer for either gender (1,804 points). Beresford will continue her career next fall at Dartmouth.

Sophie Bikofsky, Sr., Newton South
As co-MVP of the Dual County League for the Large division champs, the 5-foot-11 Bikofsky honed her reputation as one of the area's best shooters. This season she averaged 18.5 points, seven rebounds and 2.7 steals, and memorably got her 1,000th point within 30 seconds of teammate and fellow All-Stater Kendall Burton. Bikofsky will continue her career next fall at Brown.

Kendall Burton, Sr., Newton South
The DCL's other co-MVP was just as versatile on the court as her counterpart Bikofsky. She averaged 15.5 points, six rebounds and 1.7 assists for the Lions as they advanced to the Division 1 South semifinals. Burton, along with Bikofsky, was also a McDonald's All-American nominee this season. She will continue her career next fall at Villanova University.

Amber Dillon, Sr., Brookline
The 5-foot-4 Dillon led the Warriors to a 14-7 campaign in her senior season, while finishing second to Wellesley's Blake Dietrick in scoring in the Bay State Conference. She averaged 15.3 points, four rebounds, four assists and earned a McDonald's All-American nomination this season.

Khadijah Ellison, Sr., Burke
With freakish athletic talents, the 5-foot-8 senior established herself as one of the state's craftiest ballhandlers, if not the best in the city of Boston. The Bulldogs made an early exit in the Division 3 South tournament, but her brightest days are ahead of her. Ellison, the No. 44 overall player nationally in the Class of 2011 by ESPNU, will continue her career next fall in the SEC at Mississippi State.

Julie Frankian, Sr., Millbury
The 5-foot-11 Frankian established herself as one of the most dynamic scorers outside of I-495, leading the Woolies to a fifth straight Central Mass. Division 2 title and fourth straight appearance in the Division 2 state championship. Frankian leaves Millbury as the school's all-time leading scorer, and for her senior season averaged 19.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and three assists. She will continue her career next fall at Division 2 Assumption College.

Arielle Gomes, Sr., New Bedford
The 5-foot-11 power forward was a force in the middle for the Whalers, who went 20-0 during the regular season to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the South and advance to the Division 1 Eastern Mass finals, where they lost to eventual state champion Andover. Before losing to Andover, the Whalers allowed just 40 points per game in the playoffs. For the season she averaged 17.7 points and five assists, and finishes her career at New Bedford as the second all-time leading scorer (1,284 points).

Brenna Gonsalves, Sr., Coyle-Cassidy
The 5-foot-10 Gonsalves leaves Coyle as the school's all-time leading scorer for both boys and girls, with 1,615 points. She was also a three-time Eastern Athletic Conference scoring champion. With Gonsalves leading the way, the Warriors won three straight EAC titles, and took the Division 3 South crown earlier this month. She finishes with a career scoring average of 17.9 points, and amassed 672 rebounds, 254 steals, 202 assists and 140 blocks. She will continue her career next fall at Division 2 Adelphi University.

Monique Heard, Jr., Holyoke
Holyoke's spark plug of a 5-foot-5 point put in a dazzling junior season for the Purple Knights, averaging 22.5 points and six assists per game as they went 19-3 and advanced to the Western Mass. Division 1 semifinals. Heard was also the inaugural recipient of the Basketball Hall of Fame/MassLive Western Mass Player of the Year.

Morgan Jenkins, Sr., Revere
The 6-foot Jenkins was a dominant force in the paint for the Patriots, who won the Northeastern Conference and went 20-0 in the regular season to earn a No. 1 seed in the Division 1 North tournament. Jenkins, who led the NEC in scoring average (18.8 points), will continue her career next fall at St. Michael's College.

Carlene Kluge, Sr., Reading
The 6-foot Kluge lead a young Rockets squad to Middlesex League dominance, as they went 21-2 and won the league outright in the last year before splitting into two divisions. She averaged 13.2 points on the season, as the Rockets advanced to the Division 2 North semifinals. Kluge will continue her career next fall at Bentley College.

Melissa Miller, Sr., Central Catholic
A four-year member of the varsity, Miller co-captained the Raiders to a 20-3 campaign this season and was one of the region's premier forwards, averaging 11.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. For her career, the Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star amassed over 850 points and 500 rebounds. She will continue her career next fall at Merrimack College on a full scholarship.

Gabie Polce, Sr., Central Catholic
A four-year varsity player who has run the point for the Raiders the past 3 years, the 5-foot-9 Polce captained the Raiders to a 20-3 campaign, averaging 10.6 points, 3.7 assists and 2.8 steals. For her career, the Merrimack Valley Conference All-Star scored 838 points, over 210 steals and more than 300 assists. She will continue her career next fall at Division 2 College of St. Rose.

Alyssa Roach, Sr., New Bedford
Along with Arielle Gomes, Roach was a force offensively for the Whalers, who averaged nearly 70 points per game in the regular season and finished the year 24-1, bowing out to eventual state champ Andover in the Division 1 Eastern Mass finals. She averaged 12.6 points and 8.1 rebounds on the season. Roach will continue her career next fall at American International College.

Emma Roberson, Jr., Arlington Catholic
The 5-foot-9 Roberson was the catalyst for a young Cougars squad that captured their first Division 2 state championship in school history in dominating fashion, a 49-28 drubbing of Millbury. After a competitive Catholic Central slate, Roberson led a Cougars defense that allowed just 39 points per game in six playoff games.

Bri Schnare, Jr., Wachusett
The 6-foot-2 forward turned in a stellar junior season for the 15-6 Mountaineers, averaging 12.2 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game and earning a Mid-Wach A All-Star nod. When play resumes at the end of the year, Schnare will be a captain for head coach Jim Oxford.

Dana Theobald, Jr., West Springfield
One of several lightning-quick point guards to rule Western Mass, the 5-foot-6 Theobald led the district in scoring with 23.5 points per game. Behind Theobald, the Terriers earned a No. 1 overall seed in the Division 1 West sectional, and lost in the semifinals to Longmeadow in an overtime thriller.

Next up for Andover: Three-peat?

March, 20, 2011
3/20/11
12:17
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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
3/20/11
12:15
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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.

ESPNBoston's Hoops Finals Picks

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
3:53
PM ET
We've got you covered from the first tip-off to the final buzzer tomorrow at Worcester's DCU Center, home of six MIAA basketball state championships. But for now, to whet your appetite, here's high school editor Brendan Hall's picks for each of the six games.

DIVISION 3 GIRLS: LEE (24-1) VS. ST. MARY'S OF LYNN (23-4)
The Lowdown: In a season of relative unknowns in Division 3, the Wildcats of Lee dominated Western Mass again, albeit to nobody's surprise. Puncutated by wins over Division 1 finalist Amherst and Division 3 juggernaut Sabis (which was averaging nearly 70 points per game before falling in the D3 West final to Lee), the Wildcats are at it again with that famously dogged press of theirs. Always undersized yet always relentless, they blitzed Pentucket a year ago on the DCU floor en route to their sixth state title in 20 years, and could be up to their same old tricks tomorrow morning. St. Mary's, meanwhile, has size all over the place, led by the senior "Twin Towers" of 6-foot-2 center Tori Faieta and 5-foot-11 forward Cassi Amenta. The Spartans beat Lee a month ago, 71-60, in a tournament just before the start of the MIAA playoffs.
Hall's Pick: History says to never take Lee lightly -- no matter what shape or size it comes in. But unfortunately, there is just too much size to be accounted for on St. Mary's side of things. Not that they're unbeatable, but I just think the Spartans will control the glass. St. Mary's, 50-45.

DIVISION 3 BOYS: WHITINSVILLE CHRISTIAN (22-2) VS. WATERTOWN (19-5)
The Lowdown: Another matchup that on paper looks uneven, the Whitinsville Christian Crusaders boast plenty of size behind 6-foot-9 Hans Miersma, who dominated Lenox in Wednesday night's Central/West semifinal. Meanwhile, Watertown's tallest player is 6-foot-3 senior forward Connor Stockdale -- whom head coach Steve Harrington likens to another point guard on the floor -- and Marco Coppola, one of the state's leading scorers with 25 points per game. Whitinsville excels in the 2-3 zone but isn't afraid to quickly drop it and play straight man should they get into early trouble. But this is Harrington's Raiders, which means you're likely to see four things: weakside post, four out, pick and roll, perimeter shots. In other words, don't take the Raiders lightly, especially if they don't try to challenge Miersma immediately at the rim.
Hall's Pick: The tale of the tape favors Whitinsville, just based on the size it wields in the frontcourt. But Steve Harrington is one of the best coaches in New England, and you can guarantee he's going to draw up a hell of a game plan to try and neutralize the size advantage. Whitinsville Christian, 65-64.

DIVISION 2 GIRLS: ARLINGTON CATHOLIC (20-6) VS. MILLBURY (23-1)
The Lowdown: The Arlington Catholic Cougars -- led by Emma Roberson, Nicole Catizone, and sisters Rachel and Maura Buckley -- can be viewed as a green bunch with all of their youth abound. But on Monday night at TD Garden, they pulled off one of the more impressive feats in recent EMass Finals history, clawing back from 18 down with six minutes left in the first half to take a halftime lead over Hopkinton and hold it up. Meanwhile, Millbury has burned opponents in the transition game all season long, beating opponents in the playoffs so far by an average of 16.5 points per game. Out on the break, seniors Julie Frankian (19.1 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Sydney Bloomstein (9.5, 6.1) have been as formidable duo as we've seen in Division 2.
Hall's Pick: Sorry, AC. That was an amazing comeback you pulled over Hopkinton over the Garden. But this is Julie Frankian's moment in the sun. Millbury, 60-48.

DIVISION 2 BOYS: NORTHBRIDGE (20-5) VS. NEW MISSION (21-4)
The Lowdown: Mission was the odds-on favorite in Division 2 headed into the season, and hasn't done a whole lot to convince otherwise. Led by three Northeast-10 ready senior guards in Samir McDaniels, Kachi Nzerem and Darius Davis; as well as Charles Gunter, Leroy Hamilton, and Isshiah Coleman on the blocks; the Titans have begun to find that scoring touch around the rim that was missing for stretches this season. They also like to wear opponents out with a smothering, physical man-to-man defense -- as head coach Cory McCarthy often tells reporters, "The uglier, the better." Good news for the Titans: Northbridge relishes in that style, too. Eight of its players were on the Rams squad that won a Division 2 football Central Mass Super Bowl this past fall, and have brought that aggressive mentality to the floor with forwards (and brothers) Thomas and Harrison Murphy. Also watch out for Corey Pryor, who burned Sabis on Wednesday night with a series of uncontest layups en route to 24 points.
Hall's Pick: Cory McCarthy is known to fill up a reporter's notebook fairly quickly with his endless arsenal of money quotes. But the one that still resonates above the rest is the one he gave our correspondent Adam Kurkjian back in December: "I love these kids. I would do anything for these kids. And I feel like they will eat glass for me." Remember that one if this is close in the waning minutes. Mission, 58-47.

DIVISION 1 GIRLS: ANDOVER (26-1) VS. AMHERST (22-2)
The Lowdown: Amherst, written off the in preseason after the transfer of Mariah Lesure to Tabor Academy, has rolled through Western Mass, and arrives in Worcester after a thrilling overtime defeat of Algonquin in Tuesday's Central/West state semifinal. Much of the Hurricanes' emergence has to do with the maturation of their junior class led by Brianna Leonard (11.1 points), Morbasaw Nkambeo (10.0) and Kristen Ferrola (9.3). The Golden Warriors, meanwhile, were one of several heavy favorites in Division 1 headed into the season, and save a lone regular-season blip to Central Catholic have done nothing to deter that thinking. Much has been made of Andover's Division 1-ready backcourt led by Marist-bound senior Natalie Gomez-Martinez and BC-bound junior Nicole Boudreau, the state's newly-anointed Gatorade Player of the Year. But the Warriors excel on the boards, too, behind junior Ally Fazio and sophomore Devon Caveney.
Hall's Pick: At the risk of jinxing this...should Andover win, I don't think it's out of the realm to think the Warriors have a shot next season at making it the first Division 1 girls three-peat since Haverhill in the mid-90's. Long Live The MVC. Andover, 70-60.

DIVISION 1 BOYS: ST. JOHN'S PREP (24-1) VS. ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (21-5)
The Lowdown: After the loss of Ryan Kelley (ACL tear) and stalemate of a Central Final defeat of Fitchburg (40-38), some questioned whether Shrewsbury was ripe for the picking. The Pioneers put an end to that doubt on Wednesday night, handling a talented Northampton squad with physical defense and clutch shooting from Matt Harrington. Head coach Bob Foley is known for his Princeton-ish offense, this year led by forward pivots Matt Palecki and Richard Rodgers, but we've seen the Pioneers transition teams to death in state championships past (Lynn English, 2009, anyone?). This marks the fourth straight D1 final appearance for SJS, while Prep is making its first appearance since 1974. The matchup of the day might be Pat Connaughton versus Rodgers (we'll just assume that's what Prep head coach Sean Connolly will do for now), but the Eagles have prided themselves all year long on the work of their role players. Every game, it's a different kid stepping up, between Steve Haladyna, Freddy Shove, Mike Carbone, Owen Marchetti and Isaiah Robinson.
Hall's Pick: It's going to be a rockfight on the court, and both student sections are going to be rocking out. And I do mean rocking. I literally can't wait. By the way, every high school fan ever, you've got your work cut out for you after Northampton's "Full Metal Jacket" routine the other night at DCU. Prep, 45-41.

Fazio tips Andover back to DCU

March, 14, 2011
3/14/11
11:40
PM ET



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
3/11/11
7:10
PM ET


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."

Andover blows out CC to return to Garden

March, 9, 2011
3/09/11
11:04
PM ET
METHUEN, Mass. -- Well, that wasn't supposed to happen.

Most unbiased observers believed the Division 1 North semifinal between Andover and Central Catholic's girls basketball teams would play a thrilling, down-to-the-wire contest Wednesday night at Methuen High School. When the dust settled, Andover left the gymnasium with a 60-33 victory that left many wondering what happened to the feared Raiders squad.

The two teams played three times prior to Wednesday, with Andover (24-1) winning two of the three. Those were all close games, and was neither team ever won by more than 10 points. Central (18-3) did not lost to any team besides Andover this season.

“We didn’t play on the top of our game the other three times we played them, but it’s a great program and it’s a great rivalry for us for I don’t know how many years,” Andover head coach Jim Tildsley said. “We were fortunate to come out on top.”

With the way Andover’s Nicole Boudreau was shooting, there was no way the game was going to stay close. After struggling from long distance in the first quarter and only recording five points, she had a 16-point second quarter behind a trio of three-pointers and being 7-of-9 from the free throw line. She had almost surpassed her points-per-game average (22.3) in the first half alone.

She also did her part on the defensive end, and finished with 31 points, nine rebounds, and eight steals.

“My teammates got me into great positions to make shots and luckily I had a great shooting night and was able to hit some of those shots,” she said.

Tildsley made a creative defensive adjustment in the first half, recognizing the dominance of Central’s bigs Casey McLaughlin and Melissa Miller. He decided to put the smaller Boudreau and senior Natalie Gomez-Martinez on them, feeling that the matchup was more beneficial to his team even though the pair was giving up several inches to Central’s post players.

“McLaughlin had absolutely killed us the last few games that we played them,” he said. “We figured we had to do something so Nicole said, ‘Let me try.’ I’ve changed my coaching style and I listen to the kids a lot, and they said we need to change these match-ups, so I said okay let’s give it a go. I said to my assistant Dick Miller, ‘You watch these closely, and if this doesn’t work we’ll go back to the old match-ups.”

“At the end of the game they said to me, ‘We told you those match-ups would work.’ I guess you’ve got to listen to the kids once in a while.”

Andover took a 39-19 lead into the half, but Tildsley was still not comfortable.

“I was really concerned coming out in the second half, I said we had to come out hard in that second half and we did,” he said. “My hat goes off to my team. We had a lot of pressure on us to win that game and they did it.”

While Andover was having success with long-range shooting, Central was still trying to work the ball inside to McLaughlin and Miller late in the third period, facing a 23-point deficit. While they each finished with 10 and 11 rebounds respectively, only McLaughlin cracked double-digit points, finishing with 11.

Andover moves on to the Division 1 North final Friday against No. 5 seed Acton-Boxboro at the TD Garden. It earned its way to the championship game with a 44-41 overtime victory over Lincoln-Sudbury Tuesday. The two teams did not play each other in the regular season.

“I love playing at the Garden,” said Boudreau. “That was the first thing I said to Natalie [Gomez-Martinez] and Ally [Fazio] when we came out. I said, ‘We’re going back to the Garden.’ There’s nothing like it.”

McDonald's All-American nominees announced

January, 25, 2011
1/25/11
3:20
PM ET
Thirty-eight athletes playing at Massachusetts high schools have been nominated for this year's McDonald's All-American basketball games, and it is quite the interesting list. On the boys side, Notre Dame Prep has a whopping six players nominated; also of note, Newton North's Tevin Falzon gets a nomination despite not playing a minute all season due to a wrist injury.

Below is the complete list of nominees for the boys and girls games:

BOYS

Pat Ackerman, Worcester Academy
Khem Birch, Notre Dame Prep
Joe Bramanti, Andover
Ryan Canty, Brimmer & May
Sam Cassell Jr., Notre Dame Prep
Dennis Clifford, Milton Academy
Pat Connaughton, St. John's Prep
Aaron Cosby, Northfield-Mt. Hermon
Myles Davis, Notre Dame Prep
Tevin Falzon, Newton North
Grandy Glaze, Notre Dame Prep
Jon Henault, St. Bernard's
Kyle Kager, Deerfield Academy
James Kennedy, Cushing Academy
Samir McDaniels, New Mission
Joe Mussachia, Manchester-Essex
Angel Nunez, Notre Dame Prep
Kachi Nzerem, New Mission
Andrej Pajovic, Wilbraham & Monson
Joe Sharkey, Northfield-Mt. Hermon
Chris Sherwood, Brimmer & May
Tyler Strange, Notre Dame Prep
Vincent Van Nes, Northfield-Mt. Hermon
Jimmy Zenevitch, Central Catholic

GIRLS

Nicole Beresford, Marshfield
Sophie Bikofsky, Newton South
Kendall Burton, Newton South
Blake Dietrick, Wellesley
Amber Dillon, Brookline
Tori Faieta, St. Mary's
Julie Frankian, Millbury
Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Andover
Brenna Goncalves, Coyle-Cassidy
Briana Hunt, Newton North
Mariah Lesure, Tabor Academy
Samantha Mangano, Winchester
Gabie Polce, Central Catholic
Clare Sullivan, Rivers

Caveney shoots No. 1 Andover to victory

January, 7, 2011
1/07/11
11:19
PM ET
ANDOVER, Mass. -- There are few things Jim Tildsley values more than a quick-triggered sniper.

One of them is a left-handed, quick-triggered sniper.

So with his Andover girls basketball team knotted with rival Central Catholic late in the fourth quarter Friday, he drew up one of his more successful inbounds plays to free up southpaw sophomore Devon Caveney. Starting in the low block, Caveney waited for two screens to push down from the elbows, curled toward the top of key and took a pass without a Raider within five feet of her.

“She’s got a sweet stroke,” Tildsley marveled afterward. “I love lefties.”

Caveney nailed the 3-pointer, her second in less than a minute and fourth of the game, and Andover came up with one last stop with under 10 seconds to play to rally past Central Catholic, 53-52, in what so far is the Merrimack Valley Conference’s game of the season.

On a night when the Golden Warriors lived and died by the outside shot, Caveney couldn’t miss, scoring 22 points to keep Andover (8-0) atop ESPN Boston’s MIAA girls basketball rankings. Junior Nicole Boudreau shrugged off a cold shooting touch for 17 points, 10 rebounds and the game-sealing steal in the waning moments, and Natalie Gomez-Martinez added 11 points.

Andover needed every one. Central Catholic (6-2), ranked fifth by ESPN Boston, led by as many as 11 points early, four by halftime and seemed to have the Warriors at arm’s length throughout the fourth quarter before Caveney tied the game with a 3-pointer with 1:58 left to play.

The teams then traded turnovers -- Boudreau was called for a travel before the Raiders were tagged on a quick five-second violation -- setting up Caveney’s heroics. The 5-foot-8 guard hit four of Andover’s eight 3-pointers, using her size on the wing to find great looks throughout the game.

The Warriors’ first player off the bench as a freshman, Caveney has proven a fantastic complement to Boudreau and Gomez-Martinez this season, and when necessary, a star herself.

“I knew I had to score, so I needed to hit those tough shots,” Caveney said. “We struggled, but we pulled through. We got the win.”

Central Catholic didn’t, but “heartbreaking,” coach Susan Downer said, doesn’t necessarily mean disappointed.

Placing an emphasis inside after struggling down low in their 53-43 loss to Andover on Dec. 21, the Raiders thrived behind senior Melissa Miller’s 18 points and game-high 16 rebounds. Combined with emerging 6-foot sophomore Casey McLaughlin (13 points, six rebounds), the senior helped control the blocks, scooping in a variety of lay-ups and put-backs while keeping Andover’s drivers at bay.

In all, 44 of Central Catholic’s 52 points came inside the paint. Downer said Miller “played the best that I’ve seen her play yet as a high school player.”

“There were a lot of things in the end that we needed to do better and we didn’t,” said Downer, whose team committed 22 turnovers, the majority in the halfcourt. “But I’m proud of them. This is the best game we’ve played this season. I had three freshmen rotating in there. So there were a lot of positives out of this game.”

Momentum swayed throughout the night within Andover’s rumbling, jam-packed gymnasium. Down eight points to start the second quarter, Andover ripped off a 10-0 run to take its first lead. Central Catholic then closed the half on a 10-4 stretch to retake the advantage, only to see it switch hands five times in the third.

Miller’s lay-up with 2:10 to play staked the Raiders to a 3-point lead, which Caveney erased and then handed Andover with back-to-back 3-pointers.

“We know and I know she can stick the 3,” Downer said of the sophomore. “And that’s what dangerous about them. You cannot not play anybody. “

Miller hit another lay-up with 34 seconds left to slice it to one, and after Boudreau missed the front end of one-and-one, Central Catholic called timeout to set up its final play. But in a hectic sequence, Gabie Polce (12 points) pushed the ball over midcourt, only to have it stripped by Boudreau, who -- on her back -- passed upcourt to run out the clock.

Andover players rushed to the center of the court in a wild celebration that Tildsley chose to avoid.

“I’m exhausted,” he said with a smile afterward. “It doesn’t get better than this.”

We’ll see: The teams meet again Feb. 7 in Lawrence.

“One of our goals is to win the MVC championship, and we know to do it we have to beat Central,” Boudreau said. “It’s a key win, and it gives us a little bit of boost, a little more confidence.”

Role players lift No. 1 Andover past No. 2 CC

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
1:05
AM ET
METHUEN, Mass. -- The blare from the final horn still fresh, Natalie Gomez-Martinez celebrated like she meant it. She jumped atop the home team bench, pumped her fist and cheered with her teammates. She even jumped down and gave a male fan a playful slap on the shoulder.

Gomez-Martinez’s senior year is only five games old. But it doesn’t matter if impressive wins like Tuesday’s 53-43 victory over rival Central Catholic come in December or March.

Each one is the last one in its own way. And Gomez-Martinez knows it.

“I’ve been through a lot of these Central games, and now as a senior, knowing these are one of my last games, I’m going all out,” Gomez-Martinez said. “I played the whole game, and I could still play another game. I know this is my last year, and beating Central is the best thing.”

Technically, Andover is. Ranked atop ESPNBoston.com’s MIAA girls basketball poll, the Golden Warriors (5-0) opened up a 14-point lead over second-ranked Central, held strong when the Raiders cut it to one and then exploded late to advance to the semifinals of the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament.

Boston College-bound junior Nicole Boudreau scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and the Marist commit Gomez-Martinez added 12 points. But while it was Andover’s stars providing several of the knockout blows, it was its role players who helped put the Raiders on the ropes.

Junior Ally Fazio shook off a second-half leg injury to score eight points, and sophomore Jackie Alois had as many points (10) as she did floor burns after forcing tie-ups at seemingly every key defensive moment in the fourth quarter.

No small feat for Alois, an under-sized 5-foor-5 forward playing with four fouls.

“I didn’t even realize my knee was bleeding at the end,” said Alois, who also snagged six boards. “Once I see the ball go down, I grab it. I’m a lot shorter than everyone so once they have it up, I don’t really have a chance. So I just try to get down under and be scrappy and get the ball.”

Her contributions aren’t lost on her Andover teammates. The defending Division I champions know a dominant team needs its role players as much as its stars, and between Alois, Fazio and Devon Caveney (six points, five rebounds), the Warriors feel they have the pieces to surround their future Division-I players.

They helped force the Raiders (3-1) into 25 turnovers and for long stretches, contained Gabie Polce (seven points) and Melissa Miller. And when Miller scored all 10 of her points in a three-minute, 17-second span in the fourth to slice a 36-27 deficit to 43-42, it was Alois who laid in a bucket to break the momentum.

Gomez-Martinez’s ensuing lay-up and Boudreau’s back-breaking 3-pointer simply finished it off.

“Everybody on the team knows their role,” Boudreau said. “Jackie knows she has to be a beast down low, she has to get every rebound, she has to get every loose ball. And then we have players like Devon and Olivia (Biles) who can knock down some shots. Me and Natalie need some help out there, so it’s definitely good that other people step up.”

Said Gomez-Martinez: “She (Alois) is a sophomore, but I told her, ‘You have to step up and play like a senior and just play hard.’ She had four fouls and she still played.”

Andover needed her to. Central Catholic is learning what life is like without all-time leading scorer, rebounder and current Boston College freshman Katie Zenevitch.

But it has a promising 6-foot sophomore in Casey McLaughlin (12 points, 15 rebounds) to join Miller and Polce, both bound for Division II schools next season. And despite its sloppiness Tuesday -- a good portion of it self-inflicted -- Central Catholic proved it can respond to adversity with its second-half run.

It just couldn’t “get over the hump,” Raiders coach Susan Downer said. Central Catholic called more timeouts (two) than it scored points (one) in the final 3:48.

“We’re only in game four here,” Downer said. “I’m still learning about substitution patterns, who’s in what position, who can step up in certain pressure situations. … I think the pressure gave us more trouble than I thought it would, so we’ll look at that and incorporate our bigs a little bit more when we play them again.”

And they certainly will.

“Probably three more times,” Andover coach Jim Tildsley said. “We play them twice in the league and we’ll probably play in them in the tournament. It’s such a great rivalry and it’s nice to be on top tonight.”

A few more notes and observations:

-- A drop-dead shooter, Boudreau is adjusting to playing more in the blocks this year. At 5-foot-9, she is the tallest player on the team, and had the assignment of McLaughlin for most of Tuesday’s game. She also had to sit for a spell during the fourth quarter because of foul trouble.

“Not picking up fouls, as we can see” is a big adjustment, Boudreau said. “It’s a different game down low, so I definitely have to adjust.”

-- Polce sang the national anthem before Tuesday’s game.

-- Andover plays Lowell in their semifinal game at 6 p.m. on Monday in Methuen. Central Catholic and Lawrence meet at 2:15 p.m. that day. Earlier Tuesday, Morgan Lumb scored 19 points in North Andover’s 52-38 victory over Methuen.

Preseason All-State Hoops squads

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
6:50
PM ET
High school basketball season is finally upon us, and to kick things off, we're unveiling our All-State teams for both boys and girls basketball. Without further ado...

BOYS

ALL-MIAA

First Team
G – Joe Bramanti, Sr., Andover
F – Pat Connaughton, Sr., St. John’s Prep
F – Richard Rodgers, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
F – Jake Layman, Jr., King Philip
C – Jimmy Zenevitch, Sr., Central Catholic

Second Team
G – Victor Aytche, Sr., West Springfield
G – Steve Wynn, Jr., New Bedford
F – Samir McDaniels, Sr., New Mission
F – Akosa Maduegbanum, Jr., Charlestown
F – Noah Vonleh, Soph., Haverhill

Third Team
G – Zach Hurynowicz, Sr., Burlington
G – Jules Tavares, Sr., New Bedford
G – Jon Henault, Sr., St. Bernard’s
F – Shane Sims, Sr. Brockton
C – John Swords, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury

Mass. All-NEPSAC (post-grads excluded)

First Team
G – Rene Castro, Soph., Beaver Country Day
G – Marcus Grant, Sr., Lawrence Academy
F – Alex Murphy, Jr., St. Mark’s
C – Kaleb Tarczewski, Jr., St. Mark’s
C – Dennis Clifford, Sr., Milton Academy

Second Team
G – Jaylen Brantley, Soph., Wilbraham & Monson
G – Canaan Severin, Jr., Worcester Academy
F – Nik Stauskas, Jr., St. Mark’s
F – Andrew Chrabascz, Soph., Cushing Academy
F – Evan Cummins, Jr., Northfield-Mt. Hermon

GIRLS

First Team
G – Blake Dietrick, Sr., Wellesley
G – Kendall Burton, Sr., Newton South
G – Nicole Boudreau, Jr., Andover
G – Khadijah Ellison, Sr., Burke
F – Mariah Lesure, Sr., Amherst

Second Team
G – Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Sr., Andover
G – Briana Hunt, Sr., Newton North
F – Elizabeth Belanger, Jr., Acton-Boxborough
F – Leigha Tacey, Sr., Foxborough
F – Melissa Miller, Sr., Central Catholic

Third Team
G – Blake Underhill, Jr., Ashland
G – Gabie Polce, Sr., Central Catholic
G – Sophie Bikofsky, Sr., Newton South
F – Shannon Holt, Jr., Wachusett
F – Amanda Harrington, Sr., Sutton

Gomez-Martinez commits to Marist

August, 12, 2010
8/12/10
3:53
PM ET
Andover High senior basketball star Natalie Gomez confirmed tonight that she has verbally committed to Marist College for the fall of 2011.

The 5-foot-6 point guard played a central role in the Warriors' run to the Division 1 state championship this past season, averaging 16 points, five assists and 4.5 steals. She chose Marist over interest from Providence, UMass, Delaware and Sacred Heart, and says she had about 15 scholarship offers total ranging from mid-major to Northeast-10 caliber schools.

"I'm very excited. It's unreal," Gomez-Martinez said of her commitment. "I love the feeling of knowing where I'm going. Even though it's only the summer, it takes alot of pressure off my shoulders."

What were the deciding factors?

"Definitely had to be the coaching staff, and the girls (on the team), and most important the academics," she said. "It has everything I needed, it was perfect."

A brief report on Gomez-Martinez from our friends at Scouts Inc. says she demonstrates "good vison", is a "solid passer" and the "quickness is there".

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