By Chuck Frye
---- — ANDOVER — Central Catholic made it a game, but Devon Caveney made it an Andover victory.
The visiting Raiders fought back last night from a deficit as large as 13 points to tie the game with 6:03 left to play. That was when Caveney and her Warrior teammates went into lockdown mode, scoring the final 12 points of the night to take an emotional 49-37 victory.
“We’ve never lost to Central Catholic on this court,” said Caveney, who finished with 16 points and six rebounds. “We came out with heart and energy to get it done. I’m so proud of us.”
Casey McLaughlin (team-high 14 points and 11 rebounds) ripped through three Andover defenders for a conventional three-point play to tie the game, but that would be the only scoring for the Raiders (now 9-3) in the fourth quarter. They were held to 1 for 11 shooting in the final eight minutes and Caveney, among others, powered the near-shutout effort.
“I was so mad that I got four fouls,” said Caveney, missing four minutes of the second half, “but once I got back on the court, I didn’t want to lose.”
So all she did was hit on a couple of free throws and a pair of pressure-packed 3’s to boost the lead to eight while pulling down four rebounds and getting a clutch steal during the run.
“We ran an out-of-bounds play that we hadn’t run all night,” said Andover head coach Jim Tildsley. “She sticks that 3 in the (right) corner and it was just a dagger.”
After that, it was up to the first-half hero, senior point guard Angelice “Lulu” Gonzalez, to drive home the win with a 4 for 4 free throw effort in the final 17 seconds.
Gonzalez was a fearless force in Andover’s quick start, scoring 14 of her 18 points in the opening 16 minutes to get the Warriors (now 11-2) up by nine (29-20) at the break.
“This was Lulu’s best game so far,” Tildsley said. “She controlled the offense and made some great decisions plus played great defense.”
“Lulu played amazing and that’s what we need,” Caveney said. “We need girls like Lulu to step up, She’s a big part of this team.”
Except for an 18-2 run featuring McLaughlin and Courtney Walsh (11 points) from the last two minutes of the first half to the midpoint of the third, Central’s offense was out of sync.
“Our game plan was to set picks and look for back side cutters, and we went to it for maybe six minutes of the game then escaped from it the rest of the way,” said Raider head coach Sue Downer. “Turnovers (21 in all) and rebounding (41-26 edge to Andover) are what killed us, but we’ll build from this and it will make us a better team.”
Junior Rebecca Alois was a thorn in Central’s side all night, grabbing 19 rebounds including 10 on the offensive end.
“In the first game (against Central, a Greater Lawrence Christmas tourney semifinal loss), we didn’t press them, so I said what the heck (last night),” Tildsley said. “We get most of our baskets off transition and steals, and we came out with pressure all over the court.
“We played great team defense and I’m happy we played with a lot of poise at the end. This was a good win, and now we’ll have to work on Tuesday (against powerful Billerica). It doesn’t get any easier.”
Andover 49, Central Catholic 37
Central Catholic (37): Casey McLaughlin 5 4-5 14, Courtney Walsh 3 5-8 11, Alex Nagri 2 1-2 5, Darion Summers 1 1-2 4, Amanda Williams 0 3-4 3, Caitlin Dell’Orfano 0 0-0 0, Toni Joy 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 14-21 37
Andover (49): Angelice Gonzalez 5 6-6 18, Devon Caveney 5 3-6 16, Jackie Alois 3 1-3 8, Olivia Biles 1 0-0 3, Jessica Witten 1 0-0 2, Abby Katz 1 0-1 2, Rebecca Alois 0 0-0 0, Colleen Caveney 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 10-16 49
3-pointers: CC — Summers; A — D. Caveney 3, Gonzalez 2, Biles, J. Alois
Central Catholic (9-3): 8 12 14 3 — 37
Andover (11-2): 17 12 6 14 — 49