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March 2, 2013

Andover rides Giribaldi, Dowden, Dunn to upset of St. John's Prep

Giribaldi buzzer-beater sends game to overtime, Andover shocks top-seed St. John's Prep

DANVERS — With seven seniors on the roster, it’s only natural that a sophomore would step up to make the biggest play of Andover’s season.

But that’s what players like David Giribaldi are empowered to do.

And as a result, Andover will be taking on archrival Central Catholic in the Division 1 North semifinals, and No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep is done for the season.

With the support of the upperclassmen as well as head coach David Fazio, Giribaldi didn’t think twice about what he was going to do against St. John’s Prep’s defense, trailing by two points with seconds left in regulation.

“We didn’t run a play,” Giribaldi said of the possession that followed a huge baseline jumper from the Eagles’ Josh Syska (16 points and 16 rebounds) with seven seconds left in regulation to give the top-seeded hosts a two-point lead.

“I happened to see an opening and I drove to the basket,” Giribaldi said. “That’s what I’m good at. I didn’t even know how much time was left. I just went with my gut.”

Driving to the hoop, he sunk the layup over Syska as time expired, and after a minute-long conference between the three officials, the basket stood and the game went to overtime.

“David is one of the most fearless kids I’ve had in my 20 years of coaching,” said Fazio. “The bigger the game, the more fearless he is.”

From there, Andover’s defense took over, forcing three Prep turnovers. Sam Dowden got a traditional three-point play for the lead and Chris Dunn hit a pair of free throws to lock up the improbable upset with a 62-59 victory.

The Warriors, 16-6 and seeded eighth in Division 1 North, will face No. 4 Central Catholic (19-5) in the semifinals.

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