Boston High School: Nicole Boudreau

Behold the Future: MIAA hoop teams to watch

March, 28, 2012
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With the unveiling of our MIAA All-State Teams for Boys and Girls late last week, the 2011-12 basketball season has come to close. But before we officially slam the book on another exciting season of hoop, and move on to spring sports, I wanted to get out a few thoughts on the landscape for next season.

To whet your appetite for the 2012-13 season, here are my early projections on the state's must-see teams to watch:

BOYS

Central Catholic - Plenty of talent returning with this squad, which captured the No. 1 overall spot in Division 1 North despite missing Luis Puello (ankle) for most of the season. ESPN Boston All-State guard Tyler Nelson returns as one of the state’s top shooters, but the Raiders also return all three of their regular bigs in Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

New Mission – Apparently it’s never too early for bulletin board fodder, because head coach Cory McCarthy is already making some barnstorming rounds, telling ESPNBoston.com this afternoon that if the Titans don’t win the Division 2 state title next year, “I should be fired.” Bold, yes, but it’s hard not to like a lineup of Isshiah Coleman, Nate Anderson, Greg Bridges, Damion Smith and Shaquan Murray. There is some promising talent in those ranks.

Mansfield – Folks are talking about the Hornets being one of the South region’s top teams in two years’ time, between promising freshman Brendan Hill and sophomore Michael Hershman. I’m of the camp that believes with those two versatile parts, paired with a terrific coach in Mike Vaughan, the future is now.

Taunton – Shaquille O’Neal Davis. That’s legitimately his full name, and one you certainly will not forget by this time next year, for reasons that have nothing to do with The Big Aristotle.

West Springfield – Terriers return virtually everyone, including Chris Lipscomb, Paul Bessette, Andy McNulty, Dewey King, and leading scorer Riyadh Asad. West Side is the early favorite next year in Division 1 West.

St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Junior transfer Tarik Octave was one of the nice surprises of the playoffs, and freshman Davon Jones has shades of former Pioneers great David White all over him (Doesn’t hurt that Jones was also the Pioneers’ starter at safety last fall, too). A boat load of underclassmen return, including Ken Harrington and T.J. Kelley, which should more than make up for the graduation of Matt Palecki.

Danvers – Falcons graduate 6-foot-7 center George Merry, an ESPN Boston All-State selection, but return some terrific guards. Nick McKenna, Nick Bates, Eric Martin and Dan Connors can all shoot the ball, and are perfectly-suited for John Walsh’s four-out offensive system. My early pick to repeat at D3 champs.

BC High – Eagles return what ought to be one of the state’s best backcourts in point guard Charles Collins and ESPN Boston All-State swingman Jameilen Jones. Throw into the mix one of the region’s best basketball minds in Bill Loughnane (he of four state titles) and it’s hard to think of the Eagles as anything but a favorite in the South.

Springfield Central – A plethora of talent graduates, including Chris Prophet, Lee Turner, Jevaughn McMilian, and ESPN Boston Super Teamer Tyrell Springer. But All-State forward Kamari Robinson should have another terrific season, and the way Cornelius Tyson exploded onto the scene in the Division 1 state final makes us all wonder if he’s about to realize the potential that many in the Springfield area have been talking about for so long.

Stoughton – Super Teamer Aaron Calixte and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Middleton formed the state’s best backcourt in 2011-12. If all goes as planned, they’ll be well-equipped to defend that notion next season.

Wareham – Vikings might not endure an unbeaten regular season again next year. But another year of All-State point guard Darien Fernandez means they’re not going anywhere.

GIRLS

Braintree – Wamps started three freshmen this year: Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and 6-foot-1 center Molly Reagan. Expect them in conversation for state title contention from now until their time runs out in 2015.

Archbishop Williams – Ditto the Bishops, who have two 6-foot freshmen to look forward to the next three seasons. Add in sophomores Olivia Conrad and Leah Spencer, and their fiery mouthpiece Sara Ryan, and this could be another top-five team come December 2012.

Reading – The Rockets made a flawless run through the Division 2 gauntlet, winning their first Division 2 state title in school history as one of two final unbeaten squads in Massachusetts. Two-time Middlesex MVP and ESPN Boston All-State Olivia Healy returns, as does guard Morgan O’Brien.

Andover – Golden Warriors are expected to come down to Earth with the graduation of two-time ESPN Boston Miss Basketball, Nicole Boudreau, and UConn lacrosse commit Ally Fazio. What might be overlooked amidst Andover’s unprecedented run to a third straight state title is that there were plenty of terrific complimentary backcourt pieces in the underclass.

Central Catholic – Raiders treaded water after some injuries early on. But once junior forward Casey McLaughlin was back to full strength, they made a run all the way to the Division 1 North semifinals. Have to imagine they’ll be in conversation again next year.

Andover's Boudreau is ESPN Boston Miss Basketball

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
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BoudreauRyan Kilian for ESPNBoston.com Nicole Boudreau led Andover to three straight D1 girl's titles.
ESPNBoston.com and its High School section today announced that Nicole Boudreau, senior guard for the Andover Golden Warriors, is the recipient of its second annual "Miss Basketball" award, presented annually to the top female high school basketball player in Massachusetts.

The Miss Basketball award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff and correspondents, as well as analysts from Scouts Inc. Boudreau, who was also the recipient of the inaugural Miss Basketball award last season, will be presented with the award at a later date.

"We are honored to present our Miss Basketball award to Nicole Boudreau for the second straight year," said ESPN Boston High Schools co-editor Brendan Hall, who coordinates the site’s basketball coverage. "As it was in 2011, there is no more fitting candidate than Nicole, and this year especially, it's not even close. There was no more dominant player in the state, and no player more automatic in the clutch."

Boudreau leaves Andover as the most decorated basketball player in school history, having led the Warriors to a third straight MIAA Division 1 state championship last weekend with a 61-45 win over Holyoke. The two-time Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, and three-time Merrimack Valley Conference MVP, leaves Andover as the school's all-time leading scorer for either gender, with exactly 2,200 points. In her four years with the varsity, the Warriors went 99-9 -- including an impressive 80-4 mark in the three state championship seasons. The Warriors concluded the 2011-12 season having won 38 straight games with Boudreau, dating back to Feb. 6, 2011.

This season, the 5-foot-9 Boudreau led the Warriors in every major category -- scoring (22.6 points), rebounding (8.5), steals (5.9), assists (4.0), blocks (2.2), free-throw percentage (78 pct.) and field goal percentage (54 pct.) -- as they captured their third straight state title, and fourth overall. In her final game as a Warrior, she scored 31 points -- 27 in the second half -- as they overcame a halftime deficit to capture the state title on Saturday at the DCU Center.

"I have no problem going on record saying she was the best shooter in the state this season -- male or female," Hall said. "She was a consummate stat sheet filler these past three seasons, in every perceivable fashion. The other thing to keep in mind is that she was the team's tallest regular starter, and there were plenty of times in the playoffs where the Warriors were at a disadvantage. But no matter the score, behind or up, Boudreau always took over in the fourth quarter. I think it all comes from that drive -- she's a ferocious competitor."

Outside of basketball, Boudreau has maintained a 3.96 weighted GPA in the classroom. A standout golfer as the 2010 junior champion at Andover Country Club, she has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach and referee.

Boudreau signed a National Letter of Intent last November to play basketball at Boston College, and will suit up for the Eagles beginning this fall.

Boudreau leaving behind quite the legacy

March, 18, 2012
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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.

Video: Andover's Boudreau reflects on career

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
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WORCESTER, Mass. -- ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall caught up with Andover standout Nicole Boudreau following the Golden Warriors' Division 1 state championship win over Holyoke, the program's third straight and fourth overall.

Boudreau, a Boston College signee and reigning ESPN Boston Miss Basketball, had 31 points in the last game of her high school career as the Warriors beat Holyoke. She closes her career at Andover with exactly 2,200 points, most ever by either gender at Andover. She reflected on her decorated career:


Div. 1 Girls Final: Andover 61, Holyoke 45

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
11:50
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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."

ESPN Boston's MIAA State Championship Picks

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
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The MIAA will crown six state champions in boys and girls basketball on Saturday at Worcester's DCU Center. Here are my thoughts on how those six games will play out:

DIVISION 3 GIRLS: PENTUCKET (22-4) VS. SABIS (21-5)
Pentucket Players to Watch: Tess Nogueira, Jr. C; Leigh McNamara, Sr. F; Sarah Higgins, Sr. F; Nicole Viselli, Jr. G; Alex Moore, Jr. G; Kelsie McNamara, Fr. G
Sabis Players to Watch: Jazmine Collins, Jr. G; Janaiya Sanchez, Fr. G; Shyanne Washington, Jr. F; Madison Sinkfield, Fr. F; Casie Thurber, Soph. C.
Analysis: After coming close the last couple of years, Sabis finally got over the hump in their competitive Western Mass. bracket, to land here at the DCU Center. Plain and simple, these Lady Bulldogs are on a mission; and led by a core that includes the dynamic Collins, this is a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately (and this will be the operative word for many of my picks), they run into a Pentucket team that is quite simply swarming on defense. The Sachems' lineup =is among the best in Division 3, and they're on a roll. Pentucket is also motivated -- the last time they were here, in 2010, the Sachems were penned as a favorite, only to run into a gritty Lee team that, quite frankly, pressed like kamikazes. Hall's Pick: Pentucket over Sabis

DIVISION 3 BOYS: DANVERS (20-4) VS. ST. JOSEPH CENTRAL (20-5)
Danvers Players to Watch: George Merry, Sr. C; Nick McKenna, Jr. G; Nick Bates, Jr. G; Eric Martin, Jr. G; Jon Amico, Sr. G.
St. Joe's Players to Watch: Taverick "Tank" Roberson, Jr. G; Mike McMahon, Sr. F; Joe Wiggins, Sr. F; Lavante Wiggins, Jr. G; Jon Bianchi, Jr. G
Analysis: Credit to St. Joe's for playing an ambitious non-league schedule, which included a rockfight of a bout with Holy Name back in December, and get ready to be introduced to the spunky power that is Roberson -- in my opinion, he's every bit of a tank as his nickname suggests. But after putting in arguably its best performance of the year Monday night in the Eastern Mass. Finals against Wareham, I'm convinced Danvers will come out on top in this one. the 6-foot-7 Merry can step out on the perimeter and facilitate offense for shooters like McKenna and Bates, as much as he can take it inside. Danvers coach John Walsh goes with some of the same offensive principles as his cousin Watertown head coach and two-time D3 state champ Steve Harrington. And if you thought Harrington's four-out, drive-and-kick, dribble drive-oriented motion offensive was frustrating enough, imagine what it's like with size.
Hall's Pick: Danvers over St. Joseph Central

DIVISION 2 GIRLS: READING (24-0) VS. TYNGSBOROUGH (23-1)
Reading Players to Watch: Olivia Healy, Jr. G; Morgan O'Brien, Jr. G; Melissa DalPozzo, Sr. F; Katie Clements, Sr. G; Katherine Callahan, Sr. G.
Tyngsborough Players to Watch: Lauren Iadarola, Jr. F; Amanda Hogan, Jr. G; Helena Hamilton, Sr. F; Morgan Mitchell, Jr. C.
Analysis: The Mid-Wach C champion Tigers avoided a clean sweep of Central Mass. on Wednesday with a dominant 50-35 win over Palmer out in Springfield, getting quality production out of Iadarola, Hogan and Hamilton along the way. But Reading has had the tougher route here, putting away stalwarts Wachusett, Bishop Feehan, Arlington Catholic (twice) and Scituate to get to DCU Center floor. Look for Healy to get hers, but most crucial in the Rockets' overtime defeat of Scituate on Tuesday night was the play of O'Brien, who scored 33 points. Look for her to be the X-factor in this one.
Hall's Pick: Reading over Tyngsborough

DIVISION 2 BOYS: BRIGHTON (21-4) VS. MAHAR (21-3)
Brighton Players to Watch: Malik James, Soph. G; Theo Oribhabor, Jr. G; Daivon Edwards, Jr. G; Prince Unaegbu, Jr. F; Jerard Mayes, Sr. F; Tre Dowman, Sr. C
Mahar Players to Watch: Travon Godette, Sr. F; Jesse LaCroix, Sr. G; Phil DiPhillipo, Sr. G; Josef Whitman, Jr. F; Nate Martin, Sr. C; Darwin Duncan, Sr. F.
Analysis: The relationship between Brighton coach Hugh Coleman and his mentor, legendary Charlestown coach Jack O'Brien, is well-documented. There are ripples of O'Brien's system and tactics sprinkled throughout the Bengals; and we can assure you, there are tons of coaches in Eastern Mass. rooting for Coleman, as good a guy as they come, on Saturday. That aside, the Bengals figure to be favorites in this one. Godette, DiPhillipo and LaCroix combined for impressive whipping of St. Bernard's on Tuesday, but they haven't seen anything like Brighton. Hardened by a brutal schedule, the Bengals lost their best player, sophomore Nick Simpson, before the playoffs, yet somehow haven't dropped off. There's plenty to like -- a frustrating extended 2-3 zone, a swarming press, and a gifted shooter in Edwards -- and I think this will be another big one for promising sophomore point guard Malik James.
Hall's Pick: Brighton over Mahar

DIVISION 1 GIRLS: ANDOVER (26-0) VS. HOLYOKE (22-2)
Andover Players to Watch: Nicole Boudreau, Sr. G; Ally Fazio, Sr. G; Devon Caveney, Sr. G; Angelice Gonzalez, Jr. G; Jackie Alois, Jr. F; Rebecca Alois, Soph. F.
Holyoke Players to Watch: Monique Heard, Sr. G; Alison Littles, Sr. C; Kirsy Segarra, Jr. G; Nyomi Walker, Jr. F; Selena Yates, Sr. G.
Analysis: Our friend and Pioneer Valley legend Adam Harrington is getting giddy over this "dream matchup", Western Mass.'s premier point guard versus, quite frankly, the best female guard to come through Massachusetts in over a decade. We think the crowd on hand will be impressed with Heard, but the Golden Warriors -- despite usually being undersized -- have proven again and again to be unstoppable. It just seems whatever the score is going into the fourth quarter, the Warriors simply turn around and take ownership of it. When you have a team of athletes that get up and down as quickly as these girls, plus a superstar with NBA range, that's a vicious combination.
Hall's Pick: Andover over Holyoke

DIVISION 1 BOYS: BROCKTON (23-2) VS. SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL (23-1)
Brockton Players to Watch: Jaylen Blakely, Jr. G; Drew Fiske, Sr. F; Jahleel Moise, Sr. F; Jean Thomas, Sr. F; Will Baker, Sr. G; Sayvonn Houston, Sr. C; Jamal Reuben, Sr. F; Jarrod "Bubba" Shelby.
Springfield Central Players to Watch: Tyrell Springer, Sr. G; Lee Turner, Sr. G; Chris Prophet, Sr. G; Kamari Robinson, Jr. F; Jevaughn McMillian, Sr. C; Trevor Bacon, Sr. F; Cornelius Tyson, Sr. G.
Analysis: This might be the best matchup of the day. I picked Springfield Central to win it all before the tournament started; and since the Eagles are still in it, I'm sticking with the pick. The X-factor here might be the health of McMillian, a game-changing 6-foot-7 shot-swatter who injured his ankle in Tuesday night's thrilling semifinal win over St. John's (Shrewsbury). If he can't go or is less than 100 percent, that could make the matchup down low with Brockton's 6-foot-6 Sayvonn Houston -- by many accounts, one of the state's most efficient true five -- very interesting. Yet it seems the Golden Eagles thrive on adversity -- in the Western Mass. Final, with Springer and Prophet fouled out -- Robinson held his own to stave off a furious Commerce comeback bid. On the flip side, the Boxers have been on a mission since getting trounced by nearly 20 by Charlestown right before the start of tournament play. Blakely has been one of the best point guards of the tournament, and the Boxers have gotten crucial shooting out of Baker, Fiske and Reuben. Look out for Moise, an athletic shot swatter with quality defensive skills.
Hall's Pick: Springfield Central over Brockton

Div. 1 Girls: Andover 54, Braintree 39

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
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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
3/10/12
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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.”

Andover's Boudreau is Gatorade Player of Year

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
9:04
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In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Nicole Boudreau of Andover High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Boudreau is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Andover High School.

The 5-foot-8 senior guard has led the Warriors to a 23-0 record and a berth in the Division 1 North Sectional semifinals against Central Catholic High, scheduled for March 6. The 2010-11 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Boudreau averaged 22.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.0 steals, 4.9 assists and 2.6 blocks through 23 games. ESPNBoston’s 2011 Miss Basketball selection, she has scored a school-record 2,099 points in her prep basketball career.

Boudreau has maintained a 3.96 weighted GPA in the classroom. A standout golfer as the 2010 junior champion at Andover Country Club, she has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach and referee.

“Nicole Boudreau’s athleticism was superior on both ends of the court,” said Jimmy Cardaci, head coach at Lowell High. “Her ability to handle the ball and create her own shot placed her into a different category on the high school level. Her team is undefeated largely in part to her contributions each game.”

Boudreau has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball on an athletic scholarship at Boston College this fall.

Two time Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Players of the Year Nicole Boudreau joins Lauren Battista (2009-10, Oliver Ames), Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir (2008-09, New Leadership), Felicia Barron (2007-08, Springfield Central), Carolyn Swords (2006–07, Lincoln-Sudbury), Laura Lokitis (2003-04, Tabor Academy), and Shannon Kirwan (2002-03, Melrose) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Here are the winners from the other five New England states:

CONNECTICUT: KRISTIN SCHATZLEIN, TOLLAND

The 6-foot senior guard has led the Eagles to a 22-3 record and a berth in the Class M state semifinals against Ellington, scheduled for March 9. Through 25 games, Schatzlein was averaging 20.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 5.5 steals and 2.1 blocks. A four-time All-Conference selection, she was named All-State by the New Haven Register and the Hartford Courant as a junior.

Schatzlein has maintained a B average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of youth basketball programs and has raised funds to benefit diabetes research.

“Schatzlein never gets rattled on the floor and always wants the ball when the game is on the line,” said Dan Matthews, head coach at Bloomfield High. “She shoots the ball extremely well from beyond the arc, but she also handles the ball well.”

Schatzlein has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on an athletic scholarship at Fairfield University this fall.

RHODE ISLAND: KAILEY FUGERE, WOONSOCKET

The 5-foot-9 senior forward averaged 21.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2.4 steals and 1.5 assists per game this past season, leading the Lady Novans (16-9) to the Division I state quarterfinals. A 2011 Second Team All-State selection, Fugere shot 59.7 percent from the field and 69.8 percent from the free throw line. The state’s leading scorer as a senior, she concluded her prep basketball career with 1,360 points and 849 rebounds.

Fugere has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of a literacy-outreach program, as a volleyball and bowling coach for physically and intellectually challenged youth and with the Respite Program, serving families with special-needs children.

“Kailey Fugere can really play,” said Gary Martinelli, head coach at Ponaganset High. “She is difficult to match up with because she is so smart and strong. She is very active and has good footwork and great hands.”

Fugere will attend Rhode Island College, where she will play basketball, beginning this fall.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: KIRSTEN O'NEIL, WINNACUNNET

The 5-foot-7 senior point guard has led the Warriors to a 21-1 record and a berth in the Division I state semifinals against Londonderry High, scheduled for March 7. O’Neil averaged 15.6 points, 10.2 assists, 4.0 steals, 3.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game entering the state final four as Winnacunnet chases its sixth straight state title. The Warriors own a 70-1 record with the 2011 Division I Second Team All-State selection and three-year starter in the lineup.

O’Neil has maintained a 3.02 GPA in the classroom. A two-time Division I First Team All-State forward on the Winnacunnet girls soccer team, she has volunteered locally as a youth basketball and youth soccer instructor and as a peer leader for Winnacunnet High freshmen.

“Kirsten O’Neil is a smart player from the guard position,” said Dan Casey, head coach at Dover High. “I have seen her have a big impact on games when she is not shooting well by distributing the ball and creating havoc with her perimeter defensive pressure. She has a great understanding of what her team needs from her in order to win games.”

O’Neil has signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer on an athletic scholarship at San Diego State University this fall.

MAINE: MEGHAN GRIBBON, WINDHAM

The 5-foot-5 senior point guard averaged 20.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.5 steals this past season, leading the Eagles to the Class A Western Conference semifinals. The 2012 Southern Maine Athletic Association Player of the Year, Gribbin is a 2012 Maine Miss Basketball finalist.

Gribbin has maintained a 95 average in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society, she has volunteered locally as an elementary school tutor and as a youth soccer and basketball coach.

“Meghan Gribbin was the catalyst for all of her team’s success,” said Laughn Berthiaume, head coach at Gorham High. “She was able to control the game’s tempo and she knew how to score in multiple ways. If Windham was up late in the game, she was able to dictate how the game would end.”

Gribbin remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

VERMONT: SARAH ILLINGWORTH, HARTFORD

The 6-foot-1 senior center led the Hurricanes to a 15-5 record and a berth in the Division 2 playoffs against Otter Valley, scheduled for March 7. Illingworth averaged 12.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game entering the postseason. She is a First Team All-Marble Valley honoree and a member of the Vermont Basketball Coaches Association Dream Dozen.

Illingworth has maintained a 4.02 GPA in the classroom and represents one of the state’s top academic candidates in meeting the Gatorade Award’s broad criteria. She has volunteered locally on behalf of a community food shelf for the needy and youth basketball programs.

“Illingworth works really hard and she’s tough on the inside,” said Terry Merrow, head coach at Burr and Burton Academy. “She rebounds well, scores in the low post and can hit that little elbow shot too. She’s a real student of the game.”

Illingworth has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on an athletic scholarship at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell this fall.

Div. 1 Girls: Andover 52, A-B 35

March, 2, 2012
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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
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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.”

Andover's Boudreau surpasses 2,000 points

February, 17, 2012
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Andover senior guard Nicole Boudreau became the 60th player in the history of Massachusetts to eclipse 2,000 career points, doing so with a 32-point effort in a 63-47 win over archrival Central Catholic tonight.

Boudreau, ESPN Boston's reigning Miss Basketball, needed 13 points headed into the game, and currently sits at 2,019. She is the second player in school history to join the 2,000-point club; former Warriors star Chris Vetrano graduated in 2004 with 2,090 career points.

Andover, which has remained the No. 1 team in ESPN Boston's MIAA girls basketball poll since March 2011, moves to 20-0 on the season and is virtually assured the No. 1 overall seed in Division 1 North when the MIAA unveils its seedings Friday morning.

Rob Van has the complete list of 2,000-point scorers on his site MassHoops.net, which you can find here.

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

February, 14, 2012
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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.”

Boudreau favorite to repeat for Gatorade POY

February, 2, 2012
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ESPNHS is breaking down the race for Gatorade Player of the Year in basketball across each state over the next few weeks. Today, Ben Rohrbach details the girls basketball race in Massachusetts, and to nobody's surprise the frontrunner is Andover guard Nicole Boudreau.

Boudreau, the leader of ESPNBoston.com's No. 1 team in the land, took Gatorade Player of the Year honors last year as well as ESPN Boston's inaugural Miss Basketball award. She has the Golden Warriors undefeated so far, and a favorite to become the first squad to win three straight Division 1 state titles in nearly 15 seasons.

Here's how Boudreau breaks down, courtesy of ESPNHS:


Name: Nicole Boudreau
School: Andover (Mass.)

Grade: Senior
Position: Guard

Height: 5-foot-8

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Player of the Year. Led the Warriors (27-1) to the 2011 Division 1 state title. No. 85 ranked guard in Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS HoopGurlz. 2010 and 2011 Division 1 state champion.

Academics: 4.0 weighted GPA
College: Boston College (verbal)

Extracurricular activities: An elite teen golfer who is the junior champion at Andover Country Club, she has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach and tutor.

Sue Downer, head coach of rival Central Catholic (Lawrence, Mass.): “Nicole Boudreau is their leader, their emotional leader. When they’re down, she’s the one rallying them together. She wants the big shot. Nicole has elevated her game. You know she’s a fantastic shooter, but she’s got a great drive, too. That’s the aspect she’s gotten better at. She can now go inside, which before she couldn’t really do.”


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

January, 27, 2012
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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.”

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