EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

December 28, 2012

Central rallies late to edge Andover

Central rallies past Andover late to advance to title game

(Continued)

Berroa missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 12 seconds left and Andover called time with 8.2 seconds left.

But Central forced a pass into the backcourt and Silveira appeared to slip. He got the ball to Konevich whose rushed three wouldn’t fall.

The silky smooth 6-4 senior forward Berroa, who was the most impressive player on the floor, shook his head over the Andover comeback.

“I was kind of shocked,” said Berroa, who lives in Lowell. “Andover is tough. Give them props. We respect them.”

Central got a boost from the return of point guard Lucas Hammel. He carved up the Andover defense in the big second quarter with several pin-point passes for layups.

“Getting him back was big,” said Berroa, who was also a force on the boards.

Even when they were on their heels, Berroa, the son of a minister, said the Raiders never lost the faith.

“We always have confidence in big games,” he said.

Andover started strong, leading the top-ranked team in EMass. 16-11 after one. Sam Dowden and David Giribaldi both had five points in the frame but Andover suffered a tough blow when Giribaldi picked up his third foul with 1.3 seconds left in the quarter.

Andover trailed 48-43 after three but rallied as Giribaldi and Dunn had five points each and Dowden chipped in seven in the fourth.

Dowden and his undersized mates battled valiantly against the much bigger Raiders (6-4 Gemmell, 6-4 Berroa, 6-6 Cambio). But without its talented 6-4 sophomore Connor Merinder (out until February with a broken wrist), Andover was overmatched down low.

The build-up and intensity of the game were draining. Fazio poured so much into it, he accidentally walked into the Central locker room after the game.

“I’m proud of my kids, their character and heart,” said the 24th-year Andover coach. “We’re not afraid of them.”

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