EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 11, 2013

Knights drill Andover, close in on title

Bardwell pours in 35, Knights run Andover off floor, close in on MVC title

By Hector Longo
hlongo@eagletribune.com

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The North Andover High boys, playing on Tuesday night at mighty Central Catholic, with the Merrimack Valley Conference Large Division championship hanging in the balance?

“Outrageous!” declared Knights’ forward Chris Bardwell, as in nobody — Nobody! — might have pondered this scenario when balls started bouncing back in late November.

But behind a wildly proficient 35-point performance from Bardwell and Co., North Andover pounded Andover, 73-50, to assure that Tuesday’s tussle will be a brawl for it all with Central.

North Andover moves to 12-1 with Central and Methuen left. Central is 11-1 with the Knights, Andover and Lowell remaining.

Outrageous!

“I think we all just came into this one with the attitude, ‘We’re not losing,’” explained Bardwell of last night’s effort, which saw the Knights trail 12-10 after one quarter then steamroll Andover to the tune of 49-22 through the next two. “Playing us at home is very dangerous. We don’t lose at home.”

At least not yet, anyway. In fact, those two middle periods were strikingly reminiscent to North Andover’s 35-9 closing blitz to beat Central here at cozy Crozier just 13 days ago.

North Andover played loose. The Knights defended, ran, found both big men, and knocked down shots from everywhere.

Setting a career-high with 35, Bardwell was unstoppable, hitting 14 of 22 field-goal attempts -- many of which came as he just hung around the hoop. Classmate Derek Collins appeared stunned at times to spot the big fella by himself, but the senior was quick to unleash a handful of 70-foot fastballs that Bardwell deposited for two.

“We’re a fast-break team, and those guys like Derek just found me,” said Bardwell.

But as much as the break skewered the Warriors, now 13-5, it was the long ball that finished the job in the third.

At 37-31, Isaiah Nelsen (11 points, 12 boards) launched a 21-footer from the top that back-rimmed up and in to kick-start a 15-0 barrage.

Collins (11 points, 8 assists, 6 boards) would follow with two bombs, and Brett Daley chipped in another as in a matter of 132 seconds, the lead ballooned to 53-31 with just over two minutes to play in the third.

Remember this is an Andover team that had its way with the Knights twice already, in the Christmas tourney and on its home court back in mid-January.

“We know with that team and that coach, nothing is easy, nothing is ever easy with Andover,” said Knights’ coach Mike McVeigh. “We just told the kids, there was nothing they could do about those first two losses. All we could do is win this one, and they went out and did that.”

Andover clearly fell victim to the size differential, something its pressure defense helped neutralize in the previous two meetings.

Chris Dunn led the way with 14 points, and Jack Konevich had 10. Sam Dowden and sixth-man David Giribaldi chipped in 9 apiece, for the Warriors, who fell to 9-4 in the league.

North Andover 73, Andover 50

Andover (50): Chris Dunn 5 0-0 14, Jack Konevich 4 0-2 10, Sam Dowden 4 1-2 9, David Giribaldi 3 1-2 9, Ben Brown 1 0-0 2, Max Silveira 2 0-1 5, Alex Brickman 0 0-1 0, Greg Dreyfus 0 1-2 1, Totals 19 3-10 50

North Andover (73): Aaron Straus 1 0-0 2, James Testa 1 0-0 2, Brett Daley 2 0-1 6, Chris Bardwell 14 7-9 35, Isaiah Nelsen 3 4-6 11, Derek Collins 4 0-0 11, Brendan Miller 2 0-0 4, John Enright 0 2-2 2, Totals 27 13-18 73

3-pointers: A — Dunn 4, Konevich 2, Giribaldi 2, Silveira; NA — Daley 2, Nelsen, Collins 3

Andover (13-5): 12 14  8 16 — 50

North Andover (14-2): 10 25 24 14 — 73

Division 1 North Andover 12-1 Central Catholic 11-1 Lowell 9-3 Andover 9-4 LAST NIGHT'S SCORE North Andover 73, Andover 50 REMAINING GAMES Tuesday, Feb. 12 Lawrence at Andover, 7 p.m North Andover at Central Catholic, 7 p.m Friday, Feb. 15 Lowell at Lawrence, 7 p.m. Central Catholic at Andover, 7 p.m. North Andover at Methuen, 7 p.m. TBD Lowell at Central Division 2 Haverhill 7-6 Chelmsford 5-7 Billerica 5-7 REMAINING GAMES Tuesday, Feb. 12 Haverhill at Chelmsford, 7 p.m. Billerica at Tewksbury, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15 Chelmsford at Billerica, 7 p.m.