EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 1, 2010

Tourney heartbreaker: North Andover falls on buzzer-beater

NORTH ANDOVER - Throughout the fourth quarter North Andover played with a sense of desperation.

But in the end, it was the desperation from the Lynn Classical side that put an abrupt ending to the Knights' season.

Top-seed North Andover battled back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to even the count in the final seconds, then watched its comeback dream shattered on a 27-foot three-point toss at the buzzer.

Classical's Jasper Grassa (31 points), bound for Bentley University in the fall, used the backboard on his long-range 3-pointer as the clock expired to snap the second half's only tie and deliver a crushing 58-55 defeat to North Andover.

No. 8 Lynn Classical (15-7) moves on to meet No. 5 Reading in the Division 2 North semifinals, Wednesday night in Lawrence. The Knights conclude their season at 19-3.

"It is so tough to believe that it is over," said senior center Alex Blane, who was the lead man in a fourth quarter wrecking crew for North Andover and scored 13 of his 15 points during the final eight minutes.

The buzzer-beating drama came following two Scott Ricketts (8 points) free throws with 7.3 seconds left, which evened the count at 55-55. Grassa had just missed the front end of a one-and-one and went after the rebound and fouled Ricketts in the process, at the other end of the court.

"I thought we would have the momentum going into the overtime but those are the shots that he (Grassa) takes."

The other side of North Andover's successful fourth quarter equation was sharp-shooting guard Tommy O'Connell, who finished with a team-best 17 and delivered a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes.

"We started to play North Andover basketball during the fourth quarter," said O'Connell, who had five long-range shots in his final high school game.

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