Grabbing a crucial rebound, Co-Captain Katie Kreider ’14 sprinted down the court with the ball. Looked ahead, she connected with Kasey Hartung ’14 through a perfectly placed bounce pass. Laying the ball in, Hartung closed the 4-point gap with two minutes remaining in the game.

Tied at 51-51, the play between Andover Girls Basketball’s Co-Captains forced Wednesday’s playoff game against NMH into overtime. Andover, however, could not close the deal, and NMH won 55-51.

Even though Andover had lost to NMH, the top seeded team, twice by 16 and 33 points earlier in the season, this contest did not yield such a dramatic point gap.

Andover went into the game with confidence and positive momentum after its victory over Exeter on Saturday.

“Our strategy was to really focus on executing everything, and doing the same kind of thing we were doing with Exeter - making our transitions on defense and making our quick transitions in the 2-3 zone to block NMH’s good shooters,” said Victoria Bergeron ’16.

NMH grabbed an early 8-point lead that Andover quickly shut down. Towards the middle of the first half, Hartung, Kate Hoey ’14 and Sarah Humes ’16 led the Andover scoring charge with six three-pointers. Andover was leading NMH 18-2.

“We started boxing them out better and shutting them out. We were forcing a lot of turnovers, and making a lot of steals because we were very quick on defense. Everything was coming together. We were playing with a lot of intensity, and we really wanted it,” said Humes.

At 6’3’’, Cara Cavanaugh ’15 played a key offensive role, leaping for rebounds and adding vital points from the post.

By halftime, Andover had turned the tide, leading 28-20.

“We completely shut NMH out in the first half, which was something they really weren’t expecting after they already had two wins against us under their belt. They got thrown off,” said Emma Kelley ’17.

NMH came out with more confidence in the second half, fueled by a huge crowd.

Even though Andover’s shots weren’t falling, the team executed well on defense.

“We were stopping shots and putting a hand in NMH’s face, limiting NMH’s three pointers much more than in the first half,” said Kelley.

At the final buzzer, the score was 51-51, launching the game into a four-minute overtime.

In overtime Andover still had difficulty finding the net. NMH scored two baskets, making the final score 55-51.

“We were obviously disappointed, but it was a good game to end the season on. Beating Exeter and then going into overtime against the best team in our league is huge for us,” said Humes.

Bergeron said, “We went in with the goals to rebound and play good defense, and we did just that. We did what we wanted to do, but they beat us by a few baskets. We really proved ourselves and showed the incredible progress we’ve made over the season.”