About 3,000 fans filed into the FleetCenter the next day for Andover’s Division 1 war with Newton North.
The teams had a vague familiarity with each other as the two schools tangled for four straight seasons in the late stages of the state soccer tourney. Newton North won three of those matchups and threatened to carry that streak into basketball as it held the lead in the late stages of the Eastern Mass. finale.
But with six minutes left to play and facing a 42-38 deficit, the Golden Warriors went to work.
Junior guard Merry Fish (12 points) hit a pair of 3-pointers to tie the game at 44, then Jenny Muller (team-high 19 points) drained a trey and Ashley McLaughlin (9 points) added a putback with 17 seconds left to lock up the win.
McLaughlin made her biggest contribution on the defensive end, shutting down Sara Rabinovitch (15 point average) to just one hoop after a quick six-point start.
“We were basically trying to force them into bad shots,” McLaughlin explained. “I was trying hard to keep the ball away from the basket.”
Next up for Andover was Minnechaug, which felled the Warriors in the 1998 state title game.
Trailing by two points in the final seconds, Samantha Hughes followed up Muller’s miss to tie the game and was fouled with 0.9 seconds left, then hit the pressure-packed free throw to earn Andover a 48-47 triumph before nearly 7,000 hoop fans.
“I just felt the ball fall into my hands,” said Hughes. “My natural reaction was to throw it back up.”
Muller led all scorers with 24 points.
10 years ago
… While Raider boys fall a point short
Hard to believe that, after 23 straight victories in the 2002-2003 season, Central Catholic still had another gear.
But it was true. The unbeaten Raiders elevated their game even higher against Division 1 South champion Brockton in the Eastern Mass. final at the FleetCenter (now known as the TD Garden).