EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 27, 2013

Andover much better than you might think

NORTH ANDOVER — Watching Andover’s win over Salem in the first round of the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic should have excited local fans for the Golden Warriors’ first game against defending state champion Central Catholic on Jan. 9.

Many thought this would be a major rebuilding year but Andover (4-0) is one of the area’s surprise teams.

The Golden Warriors, who play Lawrence in the tourney’s Hyde Division final Saturday at Merrimack College, have averaged 67.5 points per game, including 85 points against Dracut and 76 points against Methuen.

The team displays quickness, plays Andover’s typical brand of pressure defense and can put the ball in the basket. The Blue and Gold, who admittedly have had a favorable early schedule, are averaging 67.5 points and 7.5 3-pointers a game.

Andover has several reliable scorers, including 5-7 junior Colleen Caveney (16.8 ppg), 5-8 senior Jessica Witten (14.8 ppg), 5-10 freshman Alyssa Casey (10.3 ppg), 5-5 junior Rachael Cormier (8.3 ppg), 5-9 senior Rebecca Alois (7.5 ppg) and 5-5 junior Carissa Reming (5.0 ppg).

“We’re a lot better than people thought we’d be,” Caveney said.

With the departure of longtime coach Jim Tildsley — who led Andover to three straight state championships from 2010-12 — some of the girls were leery when they heard that head football coach E.J. Perry was the new sheriff in town.

You know the perception of football coaches ... yell, yell, get a little impatient and then yell some more.

“Everyone was a little afraid we were going to have a football coach as our basketball coach,” Cormier said. “But no, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I love Mr. Perry. He’s taught us so much in just the first couple of weeks we’ve been with him. So I’m really excited to see where he can take us.”

Perry, of course, has plenty of experience coaching boys basketball including two N.H. Class L state titles at Salem.

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