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February 26, 2014

Giribaldi hoop with 0:27 left helps Andover survive Billerica

ANDOVER — With the ball in his hands and the weight of the Andover team and community on his shoulders, David Giribaldi had no question in his mind.

He was going to the basket.

“I was taking the shot,” said Giribaldi. “Absolutely. I had no doubt in my mind. I was confident.”

With 27 seconds remaining in the game, Giribaldi attacked the hoop and sunk a contested layup, giving Andover its first lead of the game. That capped a massive comeback that saw the No. 3-seeded Golden Warriors stun upset-minded No. 14 Billerica 54-52 last night in the Division 1 North first round.

“I had total confidence,” said co-captain Connor Merinder. “I knew I just had to do everything I could to get Giri the ball. He was amazing.”

Andover advances to host No. 6 Lynn English, which pounded Lexington, on Friday at 7 p.m.

“I really didn’t want to go out like that in my last game,” said senior co-captain John Pisacreta. “We took some bad shots and gave them some good ones. Luckily, Giri bailed us out tonight. He is the reason we are moving on.”

The Indians stunned the Golden Warriors out of the gates, starting the game on a 18-3 run, holding the Warriors to just one basket in the first 6:48 of play. Billerica then ended the half on a 11-2 run to take a 47-39 lead into the break.

“I don’t think we lost confidence, but we were definitely worried,” said Merinder. “We had to settle into our game. We had to find our strengths.”

Following buckets by Giribaldi, Pisacreta and E.J. Perry IV to end the third period, the Warriors trailed 47-39 heading into the fourth quarter.

But the Warriors began a comeback. Ryan O’Connell forced a turnover then hit a jumper and Giribaldi nailed a three-pointer with a minute left to make it a one-point game.

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