ANDOVER — In the unfamiliar position of underdogs of late, three-time defending Division 1 state champion Andover looked poised early on to make it two major upsets in a row.
But despite a fast start thanks to their trademark intense press defense, the Golden Warriors couldn’t quite duplicate their Friday shocker over archrival Central Catholic, falling to Billerica 58-51 last night.
The Indians (10-1) are ranked No. 5 overall in the state by espnboston.com and No. 4 in Eastern Mass. Andover (11-3) is unranked in the state and No. 14 in Eastern Mass.
“We got off to a good early lead (11-4) and we played hard,” said Golden Warriors coach Jim Tildsley. “But that 3-pointer at the end of the half made it an eight-point lead. We played them even the rest of the way, but we just couldn’t make enough plays. Plus missed free throws really hurt us.”
Angelice Gonzalez led the Golden Warriors with 16 points while Devon Caveney chipped in with 13. Junior Rebecca Alois also was impressive under the basket with 13 points and seven rebounds. But Andover was never able to cut the lead to less than four points after the break.
“We gave it our all,” said Tildsley. “But we know we have to keep teams under 50 points to have a real chance. We’ll have another shot at them later in the season.”
Gonzalez catching on
Now in her second season with Andover, senior point guard Gonzalez continues to emerge as a go-to player for the Golden Warriors.
The former Lawrence High guard led the Warriors with her 16 points, 13 of those points in the second half while leading the Andover rally. She also hit a team-best three 3-pointers, and played nearly the entire game, leaving the court for just over a minute after picking up her third foul.
Not only has Gonzalez shown a knack for scoring — she scored 18 in the Central Catholic win on Friday — but the player known by her teammates as “Lulu” has also taken on the ball-handling duties and has shown ability to both distribute and drive to the basket.
“Angelice is playing very well,” said Tildsley. “She is much more comfortable here this year, and she is growing more and more confident every week both offensively and defensively.”
Led by the non-stop tenacity of senior forward Jackie Alois, Andover’s full-court press at times frustrated Billerica, and led to the Golden Warriors’ fast start and late-game rally.
“We got off to a very good start with the press, then we had some good things going in the third,” said Tildsley. “But then their point guard started to break it, and we needed to make a few more plays.”
Alois, who pressed the opposing point guard on every trip up court in the game, managed three steals and forced two more turnovers, while Caveney added two steals and forced another two Billerica turnovers.
“They came out and gave us all they had,” said Indians coach Mike McCarthy. “They are so athletic and the girls are really committed to that press. You have to know that you are going to turn the ball over sometimes, and it’s not the end of the world.”
Billerica 58, Andover 51
Billerica (58): Joslyn King 4 0-0 8, Shannon Hayes 7 0-0 14, Kayla Leverone 1 0-0 2, Lily Coppinger 1 0-0 2, Lauren Zarro 0 1-2 1, Caroline Gillis 2 2-2 8, Brittany Lomanno 4 4-4 12, Danielle Nickerson 1 8-9 10. Totals 20 15-17 58
Andover (51): Angelice Gonzalez 6 1-2 16, Devon Caveney 4 3-6 13, Abby Katz 2 1-5 5, Rebecca Alois 5 2-2 13, Colleen Caveney 1 0-0 2, Jackie Alois 0 2-2 2, Oliva Biles 0 0-0 0, Jessica Witten 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 9-17 51
3-pointers: A — Gonzalez 3, D. Caveney 2, R. Alois; B — Gillis 2, Lomanno
Billerica (10-1): 11 17 19 11 — 58
Andover (11-3): 11 9 16 15 — 51