LOWELL — Amelia Hanscom has co-starred with Anna Foley as the leaders of the Andover girls’ basketball team the past two seasons. When the Golden Warriors lost as the No. 1 seed to Springfield Central in last year’s state championship, she took the defeat as hard as anyone and immediately started thinking about next year.
“[I started thinking] probably the second we walked off the court last year, all of us crying after we lost by 3,” Hanscom said. “It was a tough pill to swallow, and I think I’ve been thinking about it a little every day since then.”
Andover made the year-long journey back to Tsongas Center and flipped the script Friday, beating Bishop Feehan 55-51 to claim the Division 1 title. Returning to the mountain top, and winning it all, took a season of focus.
“They were not going to let anything stand in the way of the outcome that they want,” said Andover coach Alan Hibino.
Hanscom, a senior guard committed to Colby, lives and breathes basketball. She could often be found at other local games on off days this season writing scouting breakdowns for Her Hoops Network. Winning a state championship in her final year was almost an overwhelming goal for Hanscom and the Golden Warriors, so they enlisted some nearby help.
Kaleb Joseph, a former Syracuse basketball player who prepped at Cushing Academy and the boyfriend of Andover assistant coach Kerry Cashman, runs Self Help Tour, which arranges workshops with teams and athletes to direct a healthy mental approach to competing.
“We had a session. The girls were like, ‘We’ve got to keep doing this,’” Hibino said. “Once a week for the whole season, even if it made one girl 1 percent better, we were going to do it.”
“Kaleb Joseph helped us navigate this journey on how to approach basketball in a way that you can calm yourself down, you can stay in the moment, so you don’t get in your head as much,” Hanscom said. “A lot of that mental preparation helped us continue to focus.”
That work came into direct play for Hanscom during Friday’s final. She scored 18 points to help Andover to a sizable lead, but as Bishop Feehan closed in late, Hanscom fouled out. She immediately panicked.
“Credit to my assistant coaches and my teammates on the bench,” Hanscom said. “Because they told me, ‘Hey, take a breath. [You’re] going to be okay. You’re going to sit at the front of the bench and you’re going to be the loudest one, because your teammates need you more now than they did then.’
“So that’s what I did — tried to be as loud as I could — and we took it.”