By Steven Kimball
Andover boys basketball coach David Fazio regards Central Catholic as “ the most
talented team we face all year.” The Red Raiders displayed their talents in front of a packed house at Dunn Gymnasium the Friday before vacation and ultimately proved too much for the Warriors in a 60-54 win.
With the win, the Red Raiders clinched a share of the MVC large title. Central improved to 16-3 on the season while Andover dropped to 13-6. The win also solidified a Central season sweep of Andover.
Fazio was confident in his team’s chances coming into the match-up.“Every night the team goes out to play, we expect to win,” he said. “We fear no one but respect everyone.” This fearless attitude was evident as the Warriors played a physical game, almost pulling off the upset of their highly touted rivals.
For Andover, the loss was negative but the play of sophomore Connor Merinder was a positive. Making his season debut, coming off a wrist injury, the sophomore had four points, logging some key minutes for the Warriors.
Fazio was very happy with this group of seniors playing on their senior night. He expressed, “This is my favorite group of seniors in the last 10 years. They are just so selfless; they represent the program with true class and pride.”
For the Warriors it has been two losses at the hands of their bitter rivals, including a heartbreaking loss to the Red Raiders in the Lawrence Christmas Tournament. “It has truly been a size differential that has hurt us against Central. We know we can keep up with them physically, but the height difference has been an issue,” explained Fazio.
Leading the way for the Warriorswas David Giribalidi, who had 12 points. The next test for the team will be on Tuesday when they face Medford in a pivotal home playoff game. The tip will be at 7 p.m. in the Dunn Gymnasium on the campus of Andover High School
The Warriors are playing with a tremendous amount of confidence despite the loss. The players truly believe that they can win their opener against Medford. Fazio was quoted saying, “We can go places; we just need the nest to go with us.” The team is asking the student body to come out in masses for a key match up on their slate.