NORTH ANDOVER — As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the joy of the victory didn’t just hit the North Andover players.

“Even the coach got involved in the celebration a little bit,” Scarlet Knights head man Mike McVeigh with a laugh. “It was a great performance by the guys. They deserved to celebrate.”

If there was any question whether North Andover boys hoops could compete in the Merrimack Valley Conference, the Scarlet Knights proved they belonged last night, taking down Lowell — the No. 2-ranked team in the state — 57-55. Lowell entered the day 8-0, trailing just Central Catholic in the rankings, while North Andover was ranked No. 13.

“This is a huge win, it really is,” said McVeigh. “A lot of these guys were playing JV last year, and a big performance like this shows them they can compete in the MVC. It’s a tremendous win for our program.”

Chris Bardwell once again led the way for the Knights with 24 points, including 13 in the second half, while Isaiah Nelsen chipped in with 15 points.

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