On the back of 21 points from Casey McLaughlin, the Central Catholic girls’ basketball team handed Andover its first playoff loss in four years, dethroning the three-time defending state champion Golden Warriors, 62-31, in a Division 1 North semifinal at Tewksbury High on Wednesday night.
“We’ve lost this game the past three years so I think these girls, and Casey in particular, has been a part of that the last three years,” Central Catholic coach Sue Downer said. “She was determined.”
With her third field goal in the third quarter, McLaughlin cleared the 1,000-point mark in her career, despite missing almost all of last season with a knee injury.
Her teammates swarmed her on the court and Downer met her with a bouquet of flowers to commemorate the moment.
“She’s an impressive young lady on multiple levels,” Downer said of the senior center. “She’s a leader and if you saw her at the beginning of the year to how she is now, she’s improved so much.”
The game started off slow with missed layups and unforced turnovers plaguing both teams.
Central Catholic (19-5) began to go on a roll with fastbreak points from Alex Nagri and Amanda Williams in succession to give them the momentum. The Raiders held Andover (18-7) to just 6 points in the first.
“We knew the quicker we got the ball up the court, the better it was going to be,” said Downer.
Despite McLaughlin sitting on the bench for the entire second quarter with two fouls, Central Catholic was able to keep its offensive momentum rolling with big points from Williams. They took a 33-11 lead into the half.
Andover switched up tactics in the third, setting up the offense around the arc and taking quick shots to try to get back into the game.
“We just had to get shots off,” Andover coach Jim Tildsley said. “I said, ‘Hey if you’re open, just shoot it,’ and that’s what we did.”
The Golden Warriors outscored the Raiders, 14-12, in the third quarter, but with the win in reach, McLaughlin netted 11 points in the fourth.
The Raiders will take on the winner of Thursday night’s semifinal between Billerica and Westford in the Division 1 North final at Tsongas Center in Lowell on Saturday.
Division 3 North
Pentucket 46, Ipswich 26 — Kelsi McNamara (15 points) led the Sachems into the Division 3 North final against Watertown on Saturday.
Division 2 North
North Andover 68, Wakefield 44 — Derek Collins netted a game-high 26 points, including seven 3-pointers, to power the Knights (19-4). North Andover has a date with Brighton Saturday at Tsongas Center in the Division 2 North final.
Division 3 North
Wayland 64, North Reading 48 — Jaleel Bell and Mark Bonner combined for 51 of the Warriors’ 64 points. Bell scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Bonner put up 17 and 11. The Warriors face second-seeded Danvers on Saturday at Tsongas Center in the Division 3 North final.
Division 2 South
Oliver Ames 2, Canton 0 — Andrew Romans scored off an assist by Tyler Provost and Justin Davidner added a goal as the Tigers advanced to the Division 2 South final against the winner of Thursday’s Franklin-Mansfield contest.
Division 1 State
Westford 3, Acton-Boxborough 1 — Kim and Sarah Lizotte and Catherine Walker all scored for the No. 10 Grey Ghosts (17-3-2). , who will play Arlington Catholic Sunday night in the semifinals at Chelmsford Forum.
Arlington Catholic 4, Beverly/Danvers 0— Jackie Sindoris, Jessica Piracini, Mickey McLaughlin, and Duggan Delano all scored, Adrieana Rossini added three assists, and the Cougars (16-4-2) coasted.