By Christopher Smith
---- — North Andover sophomore Abbie Karalis showed in her team’s opening game victory, 37-35 over Billerica this past Friday, that she is ready to accept a larger scoring role this winter.
The point guard netted 15 points, including completing a three-point play with 10 seconds left to will her team to the win.
With last year’s NA top-scorer, point guard Morgan Lumb, graduated, Karalis knows she must step up and fill that role to the best of her ability.
Karalis and North Andover play Westford in the first round of the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic (renamed from the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tourney) next Monday. A big tourney from Karalis could mean another stunning upset over Central Catholic.
North Andover won last year’s tourney with a dramatic 45-44 victory over Central Catholic in the title game. The Scarlet Knights and Raiders could meet again this year in a newly-structured format that includes two girls divisions, the Stephenson and Hyde Divisions.
Both Central and North Andover are in the Stephenson Division. If NA beats Westford and Central tops Pinkerton, then the two schools will meet in the Stephenson final.
“I feel like I do need to step up individually (this year),” Karalis said. “I learned from Morgan. She was a really good role model for me. She taught me a lot about being the point guard. I feel like just doing my part in bringing up the ball and working with my other teammates (is important).”
Karalis received very limited action in last year’s tournament as a freshman. So she certainly is excited to get this year’s classic underway.
“I like playing all these different other teams that aren’t in the MVC,” she said. “Since we won last I hope to win this year and I hope to contribute.”
Karalis’ 15-point performance against Billerica continues a strong sophomore athletic season for Karalis who in the fall was named an Eagle-Tribune All-Star for soccer after leading her team with seven goals.
She also started at midfield on the varsity lacrosse team last spring. She considers lacrosse her top sport.
Kaileigh Rogato, a senior on last year’s North Andover lacrosse team, said about Karalis last spring: “She doesn’t really have a lot of what we call ‘freshmen mistakes.’ She’s really smart with the ball. A lot of it has to do with her pure athleticism.”
Karalis certainly is in the running right now for The Eagle-Tribune’s Max Bishop Award, given to the area’s premier three-sport female athlete.
“I always try my best at every sport like with basketball right now I’m working hard hard even though lacrosse is my main focus and I want to go college for that,” she said.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Karalis is such a strong varsity athlete as only a sophomore considering her family history.
Actually, when Lumb signed with Hartford last year, she became the first Scarlet Knight hoopster since Karalis’ mother, Sharon Zagorski Karalis (NA ‘78), to sign a Division 1 basketball scholarship.
“After every game she (her mother Sharon) always gives me advice because she was my coach all when I was younger,” Abbie Karalis said. “And I always go to her to see if I can work on anything.”
And then there is brother Zach Karalis, a former Eagle-Tribune basketball MVP who is averaging 12.0 points per game for WPI as a sophomore.
“I go to Zach to work on dribbling help,” Abbie said. “It’s not too intense but we do shoot around when he’s home and it’s always fun because my whole family played basketball. We always have fun just going outside and playing horse.”
Abbie attended one of Zach’s recent games.
“He’s doing really well,” she said. “He’s one of the leading scorers on his team and he’s someone to look up to for basketball because he works so hard at it and he loves it. And I love going to his games and watching him and supporting him.”
COMMONWEALTH MOTORS CHRISTMAS CLASSIC
(All Games at Merrimack College)
Monday, Dec. 23 (Girls)
2 p.m. (Hyde): Lawrence vs. Methuen; 3:45 p.m. (Hyde): Salem vs. Andover; 5:30 p.m. (Stephenson): North Andover vs. Westford; 7:15 p.m. (Stephenson): Pinkerton vs. Central Catholic
Friday, Dec. 27 (Consolations)
2 p.m.: Hyde Division; 3:45 p.m.: Stephenson Division; 7:15 p.m.: Boys Licare Division
Saturday, Dec. 28
1:45 p.m.: Hyde Division; 3:30 p.m.; Stephenson Division; 8 p.m.