Undefeated Andover will defend its state championship after defeating Braintree, 54-39, in the girls’ EMass final Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“It’s good to win here at the Garden and we just have Saturday to see what we can do,” said Andover coach Jim Tildsley, whose squad will play for the title at the DCU Cebter. “I’m very excited, very happy for my kids.’’
Andover went on an 8-0 run midway in the fourth quarter to forge a 9-point lead. Sophomore forward Rebecca Alois began the run with a layup under the basket, then senior guard Nicole Boudreau (22 points) took over, netting two 3-pointers and two free throws to push Andover’s lead to 47-36.
“My teammates trust me to step up in those situations,’’ Boudreau said. “Rebecca helped me out there with a couple of layups and it’s a total team effort.’’
Braintree got to within 6 with just more than three minutes left, but Andover’s defense was too much down the stretch.
Braintree (22-3) came out shooting, opening a 6-0 lead. Andover didn’t get on the board until Boudreau hit two free throws at the 3:46 mark of the first quarter. The Wamps’ fast-paced offense stumped the Golden Warriors as Braintree led 13-7 after eight minutes.
“They scored a quick 6 points on us in the first quarter and we weren’t playing good defense,’’ Boudreau said.
Andover climbed back into the game in the second quarter. Senior guard Ally Fazio netted a layup and a 3-pointer to give the Golden Warriors an 18-17 lead midway through the quarter. The teams traded baskets the rest of the half and Braintree led, 25-23, at halftime.
Andover stepped up its defensive pressure in the third quarter, holding the Wamps to 14 points in the second half. Junior forward Jackie Alois hit a shot from the baseline to tie the score for the Golden Warriors with 6:23 left in the third.
“I just thought the second half defensively we just played really, really well,’’ Tildsley said. “We’re talented, but we have a lot of heart out there.’’
Andover took a 31-29 lead when junior guard Devon Caveney netted a layup and was fouled with 59.8 seconds left in the third.
“Devon struggled in that first quarter, but she played a heck of a second half,’’ Tildsley said. “And what can you say about those two Alois girls. We just did a really great job rebounding.”
The Wamps continued to break Andover’s full-court press and took advantage with fast-break offense to lead, 34-33, after three quarters.
Andover began the fourth on a 4-0 run with baskets from sophomore guard Rebecca Alois off a nifty pass from Boudreau.
Braintree cut the deficit to 37-36 but that was as close as the Wamps would get.