LAWRENCE – Too many missed layups, a handful of clanked foul shots, and defensive breakdown or two.
“That’s all it takes against them,” lamented Andover High coach David Fazio. “You have to cash in against them when you can. And we just didn’t do that.”
The Golden Warrior punishment on this Saturday night was a 64-51 loss at the hands of No. 1 Central Catholic before a sellout crowd here at Memorial Gymnasium.
It was Central’s second win over Andover this year and puts the Warriors a pair of games behind the Raiders, stuck in a third-place tie with Lowell in the MVC large.
Junior Tyler Nelson led all scorers with 18 points on 6 of 13 shooting for the 12-1 Raiders (9-0 MVC), but it was Central’s height advantage which made the difference.
The Raider plan was simple. Whoever 6-4 Sam Dowden was covering would stay in the deep corner.
With Andover’s lone big man in the corner, Central’s other two big men would crash the offensive glass hard.
Most of the night, Dowden drew Doug Gemmell (6 points, 8 rebounds) and that allowed both Joel Berroa and Nick Cambio to seek and destroy in the paint.
“I guess I got my groove going today,” said Berroa, who had a dozen points and at 6-foot-4 was often defended by a sub-6-footer.
Cambio, at 6-foot-6, feasted on the glass as well, tossing in 14 points with eight boards.
Andover, which is still without 6-foot-5 sophomore Connor Merinder, simply had no answer for the size difference.
“You have to make them uncomfortable, and we did all we could to make that happen,” said Fazio.
Andover made repeated runs at the Raiders, only to be turned away.
Styles simply didn’t matter after the break as Central led 33-26 at the turn.
In the third, the teams played up and down, trading hoops and haymakers. Andover, however, couldn’t carve into the 7-point lead.
The Warriors got to five once, when David Giribaldi drove and banked a sweet reverse. But Raider point man Lucas Hammel answered that with an athletic three-point play of his own.
In the fourth, the Raiders choked the Golden Warriors out for good, allowing the three bigs to account for all 13 Central points while shutting the door at the other end.
Some stifling Central defense held Andover to one field goal in the final eight minutes.
It started with a concerted effort to slow down Dowden.
“In my mind, he’s the best player in the league, playing in the post,” said Nault. “So that’s what our defense was designed to do.
“I thought we did a pretty nice job on him and overall.”
Spending much of the night with Raiders draped on him, Dowden had nine points, nine boards and three blocks.
Chris Dunn and Max Silveira had 11 points apiece to lead the Warriors.
“It was a very emotional game. For us, we love the physical stuff,” said Central’s Berroa. “Teams like Andover are so fun to play. They bring out the best in us.”
Central Catholic 64, Andover 51
Andover (51): Jack Konevich 2 0-0 6, Max Silveira 2 6-7 11, David Giribaldi 3 0-0 6, Chris Dunn 5 0-2 11, Greg Dreyfus 2 1-2 5, Alex Brickman 1 1-1 3, Sam Dowden 3 3-7 9, Totals 18 11-19 51
Central Catholic (64): Nick Cambio 6 2-3 14, Tyler Nelson 6 2-2 18, Doug Gemmell 2 2-4 6, Joel Berroa 5 2-3 12, Mike Barry 2 0-0 4, Lucas Hammel 2 1-2 5, Jamahl Lopez 2 0-0 5, Totals 25 9-14 64
3-pointers: A — Konevich 2, Silveira, Dunn; CC — Nelson 4, Lopez
Andover (10-3): 15 11 18 7 — 51
Central Catholic (12-1): 16 17 18 13 — 64