State Finals Bound! Hanscom, Foley own second half; Andover girls rally to KO Wachusett

Mar. 16—WOBURN — COVID-19 robbed the Andover High girls of two potential trips to the Division 1 title game back in 2020 and 2021. Wachusett Regional was looking to deny them another, seizing a 10-point second-quarter lead in Monday night's state semifinal.

The response from Warrior stalwarts Anna Foley and Amelia Hanscom? No. Chance.

Andover's power pair pieced together a second-half that should go straight to the AHS girls hoop hall of fame, rallying the Warriors to a 61-57 comeback win and propelling them into the title tilt.

The championship game — Andover's second straight — against Bishop Feehan will be at Tsongas Center in Lowell on Friday night at 7:30.

"It took everybody. Down the stretch everyone made plays," said Foley. "This is the environment you hope for. We had to come back and come together after Marissa (Kobelski), our best defensive player, went down.

"We were down at half. We've been in that position before, and we kept fighting. It was definitely a great fight. That's what it's all about."

Without Foley — and two huge late threes from Michaela Buckley — in the first half, Andover would have been staring at a much deeper halftime deficit than 31-25.

If the Quinnipiac-bound senior was good in her 12-point first half, often with two or three Mountaineers hanging on her. She was spectacular in the second half, netting 11 points, with six rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

And she couldn't have done it without Hanscom. The Colby-bound senior, who kind of rode the wave in a two-point first half, dominated fourth-seeded Wachusett in the second two the tune of 14 points and six boards.

"We made some adjustments. We wanted to see how they would guard Amelia when she went down to the block," said Andover High coach Alan Hibino. "We said let's ride the two Warriors. We saw in their matchups, that we could establish that two-person game. They were really good."

For much of the final 16 minutes, it was two-person basketball at the highest levels.

"Anna and I have just been in sync with each other for so long. and we know how each other plays so well. We complement each other, so when it comes down to it, we hit each other in the right spots," said Hanscom.

"I'm my own biggest enemy. I get in my own head, I get myself angry, and I get myself motivated to come out and have halves like that. I just had to get myself pumped and reset.

"I knew I had to do something. We're a really powerful team. I try to just amplify that with my play. My first-half play wasn't really cutting it. I needed to step up and bring a different level of intensity."

Still, Andover needed more, especially with Kobelski out for most of the second half with a shoulder injury.

Enter conscience-free Ella Vidoni. Immune to the pressure of the big game, Vidoni delivered nine second-half points, 11 for the game.

"Listen, Ella Vidoni stepped up today. She deserves so much credit for the kind of role she's played for us this season," said Hanscom. 'She's that spark off the bench for us. She can score. She can point-blank score."

Her 3, on a kick-out from Foley, broke things open at 53-46. Then, at 55-49, she put the ball on the floor and banked in a lefty eight-foot floater.

"She was amazing tonight," said Hibino. "That (3-pointer) was a big-time shot. She was fantastic. I can't say enough about her."

Wachusett, in its second straight semifinal, showed plenty of class, fighting to the end, but Foley and Buckley each calmly sank 1-and-1s from the foul line inside the last minute to keep the Mountaineers at arm's length to the final buzzer.

Now Andover, 25-0, sets its sights on No. 2 Bishop Feehan, which took out Woburn on Monday night, 53-47.

Andover and Feehan (20-4) hooked up on February 18 in the opening round of the Comcast Tournament with the Warriors prevailing, 46-42.

First and foremost, the status of Kobelski, who had her shoulder iced and wrapped as she watched the final minutes, is Andover's chief concern.