Exeter-Andover feud caps winter season

Big Red boys basketball, JV teams collect wins in rivalry clash with Blue.

Brian Muldoon
February 25, 2023

Mike Loughnane '23 scored a game-high 27 points to help Exeter past Andover in an overtime thriller. 

Powered by a couple thousand of Exeter's and Andover’s noisiest and most supportive students, families and alumni, the season-ending clash of Big Red and Blue on Saturday lived up to the rivalry's long tradition.

Exeter picked up victories in boys varsity basketball, boys JV basketball, girls JV basketball, and girls JV hockey, while Andover outlasted Big Red in the other five contests on the day. 

The boys varsity basketball game was one for the ages in a series more than a century old. Exeter grabbed control early and kept a three-point lead at the break. A back-and-forth affair throughout the second half saw the two teams exchange the lead several times in the final four minutes of regulation. Defense was the driver to overtime, as both Exeter and Andover made stops in the final minute to force an extra period knotted at 48-48. 

Exeter held a 51-50 lead with 90 seconds left in overtime when Mike Loughnane ‘23 found Tristan Zhang ‘25, who buried a clutch 3-pointer from the wing to extend the Big Red cushion to four points. It wouldn't stick. Andover answered with its own 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to nose in front 55-54 wit 18 seconds left.

After a timeout, Loughnane drove to the hoop and drew a foul with under five seconds remaining and knocked down both free throws in front of the raucous crowd to give Exeter its lead back, 56-55. Andover's heave at the buzzer failed to connect, and Big Red had its fifth straight victory in the season-ending series.

Loughnane hit five 3-pointers and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line on his way to a game-high 27 points. Fellow seniors Rollie Castineyra ‘23 and Aidan Burke ‘23, added 13 points and 10 points, respectively, for the hosts. 

Girls varsity basketball nearly put together a comeback that would have lived famously in the annals of the rivalry. A sluggish start saw Big Red trail by 14 points at the end of the first quarter. Exeter woke up in the second and clawed their way back. Laurie Chung ’24 led the charge as she poured in all 10 of her points just before halftime, building Exeter some momentum. That energy carried into the second half as Exeter cut the Andover lead down to seven heading into the fourth quarter. Big Red continued to battle and brought themselves back to within two points when Stacy Chen ’24 connected for a layup through traffic with just 32 seconds to go. That was as close as Big Red would get, however, as Andover drained a free throw and played tough defense to close the game out, 42-39.

Jac Doucette ’23 powered the Exeter offense with a team-high 18 points. The two-year senior also connected for the 1,000th point of her high school career.

On the ice, it was Andover girls varsity who broke a scoreless tie with three minutes remaining in the opening period on a power play when they buried a puck that careened off the cross bar and to the open side of the net to stake a 1-0 edge. The Blue took advantage of another power play opportunity early in the second to double up their lead, 2-0, and would hang on for the two-goal victory. Exeter senior Sami Smith ’23 was strong in net for Big Red against and Andover club that improved to 22-2-1.

On the boys side, the Red and Blue played a scoreless first period before Andover scored in the opening minute of the second to go up, 1-0. Big Red had an opportunity to even the game with an odd-man rush during a penalty kill, but the Andover netminder made an athletic save to his left to preserve a 1-0 lead. Andover was able to corral the puck and capitalize with a rush of its own to extend the lead to 2-0. The Blue would add another early in the third before scoring an empty-netter to seal a 4-0 victory.

In addition to the games, the crowd was treated to some sensational performances from Exeter dance groups POMS and ABS, while the Big Red Pep Band had the gym rocking, making the atmosphere inside Love Gym electric.