Basketball Warriors Conquer Central Catholic 55-52

A monumental semifinal win over the Raiders puts Andover in Thursday’s final against North Andover.

Storming the court after a game is the hallmark of a big basketball win.

Tuesday's triumph was one of the most monumental wins in team history as the Andover Golden Warriors boys hoops team achieved a long awaited win over their archrival Central Catholic, 55-52, to advance to the finals of the 2010 Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament.

"We had a monkey on our back," said Andover head coach David Fazio who has historically been unable to beat his alma mater, Central Catholic. To add to the drama, Fazio's team lost its best player down the stretch.

Joe Bramanti (20 points, 6 rebounds) made the play of the night with 2:12 left in the contest. Hanging in the air on the basket's left side he laid in a shot with the right hand and drew a foul. Completing the three point play put Andover up 51-47 after trailing throughout most of the game.

Fantasies of an upset over the defending state champions started to become a reality, but then disaster struck for Andover.

Bramanti fouled out on the ensuing Central Catholic possession and senior Van Caraviello (11 points) stepped into the lineup.

"We lose our best player with two minutes and ten seconds [left] and somehow, some way, we make enough plays to win," said Fazio

Bramanti, distraught after fouling out, got in Caraviello's face when the 6-foot 1-inch senior took the floor. Bramanti grabbed him by the jersey and screamed.

"I just told him to keep fighting," Bramanti said. "Finish your plays," he told Caraviello.

"The last time I checked, it's a team game and that was a team effort by those guys; that's what it's all about," said Fazio

It was Caraviello who would later finish off the Raiders.

Central Catholic came back to tie it but Andover regained the lead on a short jumper from Sam Dowden (9 points) with 34.1 seconds remaining.

"It was kind of a destroyed play," said Dowden. "I just tried to make something happen."

Central Catholic standout senior, 6-foot 7-inch, Jimmy Zenevitch (16 points, five rebounds) could have tied the game with free throws on the next possession but his second attempt from the charity stripe was no good.

Zenevitch had dropped 31 points to compliment 21 rebounds in the Raiders' last game over Lawrence High School.

Caraviello provided the dagger for the Golden Warriors by draining his free throws with 12.3 seconds left.

Down 55-52, Central Catholic heaved up a desperation three which clanged iron at the buzzer, and pandemonium commenced on the floor with the Andover High School students rushing the floor and mobbing their team.

"I just told the kids that at the end of the day you'll never forget this for as long as you live but if we don't win on Thursday you'll never forgive yourself," said Fazio.

"Tonight's a special night, especially for these kids," Fazio said.

The North Andover , after a Tuesday evening win over Greater Lawrence Technical High School, await Andover in the finals on Thursday night.

"Right now I just kind of want to enjoy tonight and then tomorrow morning wake up and start thinking about North Andover," said Fazio.

Fazio, a former Central Catholic player, was happy to win but grateful of the school he defeated.

"At the end of the day, if I didn't go to that school, I wouldn't be fortunate enough to be coaching in the community I'm coaching in right now, period, point blank," he said.

The finals will take place at the Lawrence High School gym at 8p.m. on Thursday. North Andover is 5-0 heading into the game and are the defending Cape Ann League champions.

Andover (4-1) dealt Central Catholic (4-1) its first loss of the season after the Raiders captured last year's Division I state title.

Central Catholic came into the game having won the last three Christmas Tournaments, twice over Andover.  On Thursday, Andover seeks its first Christmas tournament win since 1994.


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