Daily Archives: March 10, 2012

Danvers takes Division 3 North title with 53-40 win over Saugus

George Merry, Eric Martin, and Coach John Walsh head out for the D3 North trophy.

Dan Connors, Nick McKenna, Nick Bates, Eric Martin, Jon Amico, and George Merry with the D3 North trophy.

(Lowell) Reality set in for underdog Saugus in the last quarter and Danvers captured the Division 3 North title (53-40) on Saturday afternoon at the Tsongas Center.

The victory sends the Falcons (#2 seed) to the D3 state semi-finals at the TD Garden on Monday against the South champs (undefeated Wareham).  (I suspect that the 4:15AM start time, currently on the MIAA website, is a typo similar to my originally listing this game on Tuesday when it is on Monday.) The 23-0 Vikings are from the South Coast League.

The Sachems (14-9) got within five points of Danvers (45-40) early in the final quarter but didn’t score a single point over the last 6:43 of regulation.  Meanwhile, the Falcons put up eight points to pull away to a deceiving thirteen point spread at the end of the game.

A month ago Danvers pummeled Saugus, 73-39.  Given up for dead at the time, the Sachems rallied to salvage their season by winning six straight to get to the tournament.  The #8 seed then went on to upset Greater Lawrence, top seed Whittier, and Arlington Catholic to earn a third chance against Danvers.

5-9 Curtis Castello (19 points) in against 6-7 George Merry (22 points)

The Sachems looked more than capable of adding Danvers to their collection of upsets in this one as they were even with the Falcons (23-23) with 2 ½  to go in the second quarter.

However, five George Merry (22 points) free throws and a layup during the rest of the half were only answered by a Brandon Wladkowski runner in the lane.  The Falcons had a 30-25 halftime spread.

A Curtis Casella (19 points) layup and a Brandon Wladkowski steal and layin had Saugus back quickly within one (30-29), a minute into the second half.

But then the wheels started to come off for the Sachems.  Within a 1 ½ minute span the Falcons ran nine straight (two free throws Eric Martin, Nick Bates layup after a steal, two free throws George Merry, and a Nick McKenna triple) and were up ten (39-29) with 4 ½ minutes left in the third period.

The Falcons extended that lead to twelve (45-33) on a Nick Bates long one with 1 ½ minutes to go in the third.

Saugus coach Paul Moran

Curtis Casella (5-9 senior) responded with seven in a row on layups…….one after a steal and Saugus was behind just 45-40 with 6:43 left in the final quarter.  That neither Curtis nor his Sachem teammates would tally a single point the rest of the way is hard to fathom but that was what happened.

Danvers didn’t set any records with their offense in the final quarter but a jumper by Nick McKenna (10 points), a layup by George Merry, and a Eric Martin (8 points) steal/layin and free throw were enough to enable the Northeast Conference champs to become the D3 North champs.

Selim Omerovic (6-4 senior) had ten points (all in the first half) and battled foul trouble throughout much of the game.

George Merry heavily guarded

I have seen all three of Danvers tourney games.  6-7 George Merry is the key player for the Falcons.  His mere presence down low kept Saugus from getting too many easy shots in close.  On offense he converted three rebounds.  He also connected on ten-of-thirteen free throws.

Saugus was the third team I’ve seen that had at least 1 ½ defenders on George.  That has left a lot of very good looks for his teammates.  Also, when George is on the strong side, teams so far have been vulnerable to weak-side rebounding and layins by Nick Bates and Dan Connors.

Both Danvers and Saugus entered the D3 North finals in completely new territory for either basketball program.  The Falcons are just two wins away from a state championship.

Danvers boxscore

Saugus boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Danvers student section

Nick Bates gets help

Brian Wladkowski feeds Selim Omerovic (10 points)

Eric Martin and Curtis Castello

Eric Martin layin

loose ball

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Pentucket scoring runs get them past Ipswich (49-30) for the Division 3 North title

Pentucket Regional High School – Division 3 North champs

Pentucket seniors (Sarah Higgins, Tori Lane, Molly McDonough, and Leigh McNamara) head for the D3 North trophy.

(Lowell)  Pentucket did in Ipswich with two lengthy scoring runs and defeated the Tigers, 49-30, on Saturday morning at the Tsongas Center.

The Sachems’ (#3 seed) win gives them the Division 3 North title and a trip to the TD North Garden on Tuesday (4:15 PM) to face D3 South champs, Fairhaven, in the state D3 semi-finals.

Pentucket (21-4) rolled to 9-0 lead in Run #1 before Tiger senior Shannon McFayden hit a long one over four minutes into the first period.

A Julia Davis free throw midway through the second quarter had Ipswich (18-5) still in contention, 14-10.

There was no recovery, however, for the Tigers from Run #2.  This one lasted 4 ½ minutes, stretching into the third quarter, and totaled twenty unanswered points.  That’s right, twenty!  It put Pentucket ahead, 34-10, with plenty of second half left but certainly not enough time for Ipswich to make things interesting trailing by that much.

Coley Viselli sees an open lane

In the big run, Pentucket’s organized offense turned up five layups (Tess Nogueira two, one each from Coley Viselli, Alex Moore, and Sarah Higgins).  Coley had two free throws, and Sarah had a steal and a score.  The real dagger shots in this run were two Alex Moore three’s in the last thirty seconds of the first half.  Her last one was a prayer from in front of the Ipswich bench that was arc-less but went in on a line.

All this talk of Pentucket offense tells only half the story.  Their trapping defense was equally impressive during this segment forcing four Tiger turnovers and limiting open looks.

Julia Davis, Tiger’s top scorer, was injured just before halftime and didn’t play in the second half.  Julia slid off the playing surface chasing a missed shot to got a knee injury for her efforts.

Julia Davis – did not play in the second half

Minus their best rebounder and top scorer, the Tigers were severely handicapped in the second half.  However, the Tigers did put a couple of 4th quarter runs together.  One went for nine points and the other eight.

In the nine straight, there was a layup by Bridget Curran, two freebies from Shannon McFayden, and a long one from Natalie Soliozy.

The eight straight were all from freshman Masey Zegarowski.  She hit from all the scoring spots (triple, jumper, layup, free throw) putting on quite a show.

One of the best matchups late was the two team’s freshman starters (Kelsi McNamara and Masey Zegarowski) defending each other.  Those two should see a lot of each other over the next three years, I suspect.

The leading scorers for Pentucket were; Sarah Higgins (12), Alex Moore (10), Coley Viselli (9), and Tess Nogueira (8).

Masey Zegarowski paced Ipswich with eight.

Pentucket has now won thirteen straight.  Their opponent on Monday (Fairhaven) has won ten of their last eleven.  Fairhaven was the #2 seed in the D3 South.  They are 21-2 and from the South Coast Conference.

Credit the Ipswich student section for continuing to support their team long after the outcome was in doubt.  (I do not condone obscene chanting and never have.  Positive team support always sounds good to me.)

Pentucket boxscore

Ipswich boxscore

(All the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Natalie Soliozy shoots a three

Freshmen Masey Zegarowski and Kelsi McNamara

Brigid OFlynn defends

Bridget Curran gets two

loose ball

Julia Davis defends Tess Nogueira

Ipswich student section

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