Boston High School: Rebecca Alois

Roundtable: Preseason MIAA hoop primer

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
1:34
PM ET
With the first MIAA-sanctioned practices of the 2012-13 season set to commence tomorrow, today we're looking at the top storylines and top players from across the state.

Check back with us later in the preseason for our first Top 25 poll and our Preseason All-State Teams. But for now, here are the storylines to watch, and our projected Super Teams.

***

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor


Reading Machine Rages On
Had it not been for Andover and superstar Nicole Boudreau, the Division 2 state champ Reading Rockets would have been garnering far more attention last season. The Rockets were one of the state's most dominant forces from wire to wire, going 25-0 en route to the program's first state title. They were one of the state's most explosive offenses (64.3 points per game), and blew out nearly everyone -- their average margin of victory was 27.1, with their only threats coming in the North final (49-46 over Arlington Catholic) and Eastern Mass. Final (71-64 over Scituate, in overtime).

The conversation in Reading starts with Richmond-bound guard/forward Olivia Healy, a two-time ESPN Boston All-State and one of the early favorites for our Miss Basketball award. The 5-foot-10 senior can play any position on the floor, excels on the boards, and is as physical as they come. But every superstar needs a supporting cast, and you can't do much better than Assumption-bound guard Morgan O'Brien in that regard.

With Andover expected to level off following the graduation of one of the MIAA's best ever (Boudreau), we're most likely looking at Reading starting the year at No. 1 in our statewide girls' poll, which will be released later this preseason.

Fierce, Fierce City A
Over the offseason, the Boston City League voted overwhelmingly to split into three tiers for boys basketball, based on competitive balance. And with it, the city's "A" division instantly becomes the state's toughest league. City A is comprised of Brighton, New Mission, Madison Park, Charlestown and East Boston -- all teams expected to start the season in our statewide Top 25 poll -- and with the new scheduling setup, we're looking at appointment viewing in the city nearly every night.

Charlestown-Eastie, Mission-Brighton and Eastie-Madison are the city's three fiercest basketball rivalries. Now, on top of those series, we're getting two installments of Mission-Madison, Brighton-Eastie, Charlestown-Mission, Madison-Brighton, and so forth. Brighton and MP figure to be the favorites here, but this is going to be an absolute grinder of a league. Of the highest degree.

Swat Team
Anyone that watched the University of Kentucky last season can tell you how valuable Anthony Davis was despite an unpolished offensive game. Heck, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite going just 1-for-10 from the field in the championship game.

Last year our Defensive Player of the Year award went to a guard, Stoughton's Marcus Middleton, but I'm looking at a number of frontcourt shot-blockers to contend for the award. Any conversation about swatters in the MIAA has to begin with New Mission's Isshiah Coleman, but keep an eye on Cambridge's Fredens Deneus, a 6-foot-6 junior who is expected to have a breakout season. Rockland's Tyler Gibson, a UMass-Lowell commit, will alter many a shot in the South Shore League. Also keep an eye on Holy Name's Dan Kegbeh, only 6-foot-1 but blessed with some impressive ups.

On the girls' side, Holy Name's Brianna Frias is my early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot junior committed to Providence over the summer, and averaged six blocks per game last season as the Naps went 20-0 in the regular season and captured the No. 1 seed in Division 1 Central.

Sizzlin' Sophs
Across the state, there are a number of Class of 2015 players to get excited about. Springfield Central's Chris Baldwin has yet to play in an MIAA game, having played his freshman season down the street at Hillside School, but he is already garnering significant hype. Wakefield's Bruce Brown showed freak athletic ability at times during his freshman campaign for the Warriors, and figures to be regarded as one of the state's elite by season's end. Same for Mansfield's Brendan Hill and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Davon Jones.

Central Catholic junior Tyler Nelson is on the short list as everyone's favorite shooter, and deservedly so, but Newton North sophomore guard Tommy Mobley is as automatic as they come. He plays a different role for the Tigers than his older brother, 6-foot-8 Yale forward Greg Kelley, did several years ago. But when you talk about the elite shooters in the state, Mobley has the potential to be in that conversation.

Also keep an eye on Falmouth guard Craig Green, a three-sport star who's already on the radar for track and field. He turned many heads last June, when he placed third in New Englands in the 100-meter dash. He has run as fast as a 10.6 in the event so far in his young career.

On the girls' side, we all know the capabilities of Braintree's Molly Reagan. The 6-foot-1 center was a key cog in the Wamps' run to the Division 1 South title last March, and she already holds Division 1 offers. On the flip side, Archbishop Williams' Jaylen Williams committed to Penn State this past summer despite playing limited minutes for the Bishops.

But the potential speaks for itself. For one, Williams is 6-foot-3 and long. For another, there is plenty of pedigree. She is the daughter of former New England Patriots defensive lineman Brent Williams, and the younger sister of two high Division 1 college football players -- North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams, and Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams.

Open Waters in the North
I'm not sure which will be the more interesting race in the North -- Division 1 girls, or Division 2 boys.

In Division 1 girls, we're looking at a number of contenders in the North. Nobody's counting out Andover in spite of the talent graduated, but it should be an interesting race in the Merrimack Valley Conference with Central Catholic and Billerica figuring to start the year high in many polls. Lincoln-Sudbury will be another contender, led by Lafayette-bound forward Ashley Lutz, as will be Lynn English and reigning Northeastern Conference MVP Catherine Stinson. The ultimate wild card might be Cambridge, led by Georgia Tech-bound guard Donnaizha Fountain. And don't count out Somerville, either, with Indira Evans in the fold.

Division 2 North will be an interesting bracket. New Mission returns a strong core, but so does Brighton, behind returning All-State guard Malik James, forwards Nick Simpson and Prince Unaegbu, and one of the state's best shooters, Daivon Edwards. Ditto Wakefield, with Bruce Brown expected to have a breakout year alongside seniors Kendall Hamilton and Mikol Blake-Green.

SUPER TEAMS

Boys
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Girls
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Ashley Lutz, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

***

Ryan Kilian
Editor-in-Chief, New England Prep Stars


Central Reign
Can Central Catholic represent Eastern Massachusetts in the state finals this season in Division 1? Central returns a battle tested and veteran group that represented EMass Division 1 as the top seed in last season’s MIAA tournament. Central boasts key returnees Tyler Nelson, Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

Veteran Sophomore Talent
Mansfield’s Brendan Hill and Wakefield’s Bruce Brown are two of the top returning players in Massachusetts. They are also only sophomores. Both sophomores started and lead their respective teams deep into tournament play as freshman and we can expect even bigger seasons from both this year.

Best Frontcourt?
Massachusetts has a very strong group of point guards this season but the depth in the frontcourt is down in part of the continued flood of players to prep schools. New Mission (Nate Anderson and Isshiah Coleman) and Central Catholic (Gemmell and Cambio) are at the top of the frontcourt ranks but look out for North Andover and Charlestown to also have improved front lines with the development of returning veterans as well as additions of new talent to the mix.

Replacing Boudreau
It will be impossible to replace two-time Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau (Boston College), but Andover does return senior Devon Caveany, and the glue of the squad in top defenders Jackie and Rebecca Alois. Expect some more classic Central Catholic and Andover battles for years to come in the MVC.

Special time for City of Braintree
The city of Braintree boasts some the best young female talent in the state, with Braintree High School and Archbishop Williams sharing city quarters.

Braintree returns Coach of the Year Kristen McDonnell and a lineup featuring returning senior Rachel Norton, and sophomores Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and Molly Reagan. Archbishop Williams returns Southern New Hampshire commits Olivia Conrad and Sara Ryan along with Alana Gilmer and Penn State commit Jaylen Williams.

SUPER TEAMS

Boys
G - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

Girls
G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Donaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge Rindge
G - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G - Tajanay Veiga-Lee, Sr., Fenway
F - Saliah Serrette, Sr., Weston

***

Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent


Springfield Central Is Back
Saying that Kamari Robinson and sophomore transfer Chris Baldwin are the best frontcourt in the state is no stretch. Robinson helped lead Central to last year’s division 1 state title, averaging a double double while the Golden Eagles went undefeated against MIAA opponents. The 6-foot-7 Baldwin is already drawing in interest from high major division 1 college programs. A strong, athletic forward who is known for his rebounding and sky-rising dunks, he’ll make quite a duo with Robinson, a member of last year’s ESPN Boston All-State Team.

Senior Cornelius Tyson could be primed for a big year as well. The 6-foot-1 guard made quite a showing in last year’s state championship game against Brockton, knocking down four 3-pointers in the second half to lead Central to the Division 1 title.

Can anyone knock off St. John's of Shrewsbury?
The Inter-High has two legitimate Top 25 teams in Worcester South and Doherty. Will this finally be the year that St. John’s doesn’t run away with the Division 1 tournament in Central Mass.? The Pioneers have won five consecutive Central Mass. Division 1 championships, and return yet another talented core from last year’s team. Sophomore point guard Davon Jones has already asserted himself as one of the best guards in the western half of the state, juniors Charlie Murray and TJ Kelley will be a tough duo on the post, and 6-foot-5 senior Ken Harrington is one of the best shooters in central Mass.

Brighton looking for revenge
Last year’s loss to Mahar in the Division 2 state title game was demoralizing to say the least for the Bengals, but another year of maturity should help Brighton come tournament time this year. Junior playmaking guard Malik James will be one of the very best in the MIAA, and he’ll have plenty of weapons around him with forward Nick Simpson and guards Theo Oribhabor and Daivon Edwards. The Boston City League will be a rock fight this year, but battle-tested Brighton will reap the benefits of a tough schedule come tournament time.

New Mission young, but talented
Sophomore guards Greg Bridges, Randy Glenn, and Juwan Gooding will make for quite a show this year when put together with 6-foot-5 forward Isshiah Coleman and 6-foot-7 forward Nate Anderson. The Titans will be young, with less experience at the guard position than many of their opponents, but when all is said and done this could end up being the most talented team in the state this year.

Who will emerge in D3?
Picking favorites in Division 3 is like splitting hairs. Wareham has Darien Fernandez, a waterbug considered one of the best point guards in the state. Danvers returns four starters from last year’s state title team. Quaboag has one of the best inside-out duos in D3 with Thomas Jankins and sophomore Jake Wisniewski. Hopedale has a deep, versatile lineup. Whitinsville Christian has won three straight central Mass. championships. Out in Pittsfield, St. Joseph Central returns the majority of their core from last year’s state finals team—including scoring guard Taverick "Tank" Roberson. Any of these teams could emerge and make a deep run into the tournament in February and March.

SUPER TEAMS

Boys
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Girls
G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Casey McLaughlin, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading

ESPN Boston's MIAA State Championship Picks

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
8:24
AM ET
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
12:14
AM ET
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
11:44
PM ET
LOWELL, Mass. --- On Saturday night the Andover High School girls basketball team captured their third straight Division 1 North sectional championship as they defeated Masconomet 61-53 at Tsongas Center in Lowell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Div. 1 Girls: Andover 52, A-B 35

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
10:47
PM ET
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.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES