EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 18, 2014

Prep holds off Andover for title

DANVERS — St. John’s Prep basketball coach John Dullea can live with the routine as long as it produces the desired result.

For the second straight night in the IAABO Board 130 Basketball Classic, the Eagles built a big first-half lead, watched it whittle away to nothing in the second half and then closed it out in the final few minutes.

Last night, St. John’s did just enough down the stretch to hold off the surging Andover Golden Warriors to capture the tournament crown, 60-52.

“That’s kind of our thing,” Dullea quipped. “We get a big lead, we let them come back, then we finish them off at the end. It doesn’t make my job any easier.”

The Eagles (16-4) were playing their typical tough defense and getting just about everything they wanted on offense in the first half, carrying a 36-22 lead into the locker room.

Andover found a spark during the break, however. The Golden Warriors came out in the third quarter and held St. John’s to just six points, trimming the deficit to seven (42-35).

Andover (15-4) eventually pulled even on a Ryan O’Connell 3-pointer with 5:10 to play and again after David Giribaldi converted two free throws with 3:28 to go. But the Eagles never let them take the lead.

It was nearly a carbon copy of St. John’s Prep’s win over Lynn English the night before.

“Getting over the hump, it’s always tough. Every coach in America will say the same thing. You put everything into getting it even and then you take a deep breath and they make a three or get in the lane and make a play,” Andover coach David Fazio said. “We worked hard to get it even but they still made the plays. All the props to them.”

After Giribaldi tied it at 48-48, Ben Judson (14 points) of Plaistow made two free throws for St. John’s. Then, Mike Bisson made 1 of 2 from the line for the Eagles and Judson cashed in on an open look from 3-point land to push it back to 54-48 with 2:03 to play.

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