EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 27, 2013

Andover-Central rivalry alive and well

LAWRENCE — The line of fans which was locked out of this classic rivalry spanned the length of the Memorial Gym wall to the corner.

“We’re hoping a few more people who were at the JV game might leave, so we can get these folks in,” said Central Catholic Athletic Director Ernie DiFiore 10 minutes before the varsity tip.

Yes indeed, the Central Catholic-Andover boys hoop rivalry remains as fierce and spirited as any in New England.

Giant student sections on both sides traded verbal jabs, and the athletes on the floor got after each other. At times, it was football on the hardwood.

Central coach Rick Nault deemed it “Ugly!”

“But that’s how it should be when these teams get together,” said Nault after his Raiders, who are top-ranked in the ESPNBoston state poll, held off the No. 7 Golden Warriors, 64-51. “These teams like to get after each other. And sometimes in that case, ugly can happen.”

Some wondered if there was a drop in interest when these two met in a tight (65-63) Christmas Tourney semifinal. But that crowd was mediocre at best.

Fear not, last night proved it. The Andover-Central rivalry couldn’t be better.

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