LAWRENCE — A reporter questioned Franklin Martinez as to why he and the Lancers couldn't put four high-octane quarters of basketball together.
The honest answer was probably that true-blue, Paul Neal, Lancers basketball just takes so much out of you.
Last night before about 500 fans on their home floor, the Lancers used one stifling burst early to assume the lead and a smothering flurry late to run Andover out of the gym, 54-38, in a Merrimack Valley Conference championship eliminator.
"In the fourth quarter, we came together, picked it up on defense, like we always do," said Martinez. "We always seem to end up, picking it up. We haven't played a full game yet, but we will."
With the victory, Lawrence qualifies for the state tourney at 10-3 and hangs a game behind unbeaten Central Catholic in the MVC large race.
A Martinez steal and hammer dunk punctuated the win late in a furious fourth, which saw Lawrence extend on its 35-27 three-quarter lead.
"I wanted it, the dunk was there, I saw him, and I was like, who cares," said the 5-foot-11 Martinez, who simply soared over the defender. "I said I'm just going to throw it down."
Neal, agitated postgame with what he perceived as some questionable officiating, was led by Tre'Von Farley with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Martinez added six steals to go with his 11 points, and Yadoris Arias chipped in 10.
For Andover, there was disappointment with the lack of attention to detail.
"Turnovers, we have to learn how to value that ball," said Andover guard James Costello. "Their pressure made it tough. Lawrence is really good defensively, and they are one of the most athletic teams we faced all year. They're quick, strong and fast. You have to keep your head up."
Costello was held scoreless through the first 18 minutes before hitting the scoresheet with a free throw early in the third.
He finished 10, inching Andover as close as down three in the third at 28-25.
"We took care of the ball, and picked up our defense to get back into it," said Costello.
Sam Dowden paced the Warriors with a game-high 19 points, including 10 of Andover's 13 first-half points. The defeat was the third league loss for Andover, now 8-5 overall.
Lawrence 54, Andover 38
Andover (38): Max Silveira 0 1-2 1, Sam Dowden 6 5-6 19, Connor Merinder 2 0-0 4, James Costello 3 4-8 10, David Giribaldi 1 2-2 4, Reid Bryant 0 0-0 0, Greg Dreyfus 0 0-0 0, Alex Brockman 0 0-0 0, Totals 12 12-18 38
Lawrence (54): Roberto Speing 2 1-2 5, Leonny Burgos 1 2-4 4, Tre'Von Farley 4 5-10 13, D.J. Gonzalez 1 0-0 2, Argenis Reinoso 2 1-2 5, Franklin Martinez 4 3-4 11, Yadoris Arias 4 2-2 10, Luis Torres 2 0-0 4. Totals 20 14-24 54
3-pointers: A — Dowden 2
Andover (8-5): 7 6 14 11 — 38
Lawrence (10-3):11 12 12 19 — 54
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