Tag Archives: Danvers High School

Danvers rallies from late 10-point deficit in regulation and defeats Wayland (70-67) in overtime in D3 North semis

Jaleel Bell (36 points) defended by George Merry (23 points) in the closing seconds of regulation.

Danvers celebration

(Lawrence) Danvers 70 Wayland 67

Where do you start with this one?  I did see a full moon on the way to the game!

Danvers (#2 seed) trailed 22-11 midway through the second period.  They rallied all the way back to tie the score at 37-37 at the end of the third quarter.  2+ minutes into the final quarter they were behind by ten (49-39) and later 57-47 with 1:28 left in regulation.

I thought I heard the fat lady warming up. Bad idea on her part.  Danvers miraculously came all the way back to a 61-61 tie and forced overtime.

George Merry made all the Danvers points in overtime including five free throws.

The frenzied crowd (on both sides) saw five lead changes in the four-minute overtime before George Merry’s layup and two free throws in the last 1 ½ minutes gave the Falcons a remarkable 70-67 win.

Danvers (18-4) will now face either Saugus or Arlington Catholic in the Division 3 North finals at the Tsongas Center on Saturday.

Wayland (16-6) went out in the quarter-finals to Danvers last year (50-46) but I doubt that that loss could have even come close to the anguish this one surely caused the team and their fans.

Not only did Wayland squander a ten-point lead in the closing 1 ½ minutes but they still had a chance in regulation for the win.  However, Jaleel Bell (36 points) was heavily defended by George Merry in the lane and couldn’t finish as time ran out.

That George Merry was still available to apply that game-saving defense was pretty remarkable since he picked up his 4th foul twenty seconds into the final quarter.  But DHS coach John Walsh rolled the dice and 6-7 George was there to save the day defensively.

In overtime George was there to save the day offensively as he collected all of the Falcon’s nine points including five-for-six from the foul line.  He finished with twenty-three points, totaling fifteen in the final quarter and overtime.

Jaleel Bell

The startling loss took some of the glow off of junior guard Jaleel Bell’s thirty-six points.  You talk about a go-to guy.  I believe that Jaleel may have handled the ball on every possession.  He didn’t fire from long range (the Warriors didn’t make any 3’s) but he could get open for good-look jumpers and layups.  He took the ball at Falcon shot blockers fearlessly and had sixteen of his points in the final quarter.

Because Jaleel had the ball so much, Danvers was forced, in the last 1 ½ minutes of regulation to foul him.  It was hardly their preference since he had already made six-of-six.  But they had to do it and it worked perfectly.  Jaleel went to the line eight times the rest of regulation and made only four shots.

The missed freebies opened the door for the crowd-driven Danvers comeback.  Layups by Nick McKenna (off a turnover) and George Merry (pass from Eric Martin) and two season-in-the-balance triples (Nick McKenna and Mike Scarfo) earned Danvers the tie.  And when George Merry defended Jaleel into a miss on his regulation-ending layup, the Falcons extended their season by four minutes.

Danvers had six of their seven three’s in the second half.

Eric Martin, Jon Amico, Nick McKenna, Dan Connors, George Merry

George Merry (23), Dan Connors (17), and Nick McKenna (10) led the Falcon scorers.

Jaleel had thirty-six and Mark Bonner fourteen for the Warriors.

Jaleel fouled out with eleven seconds left.  Almost certainly he would have attempted the game-tying triple if he had been available.

Danvers fans rushing the court afterwards prevented the two teams from the ceremonial handshake afterwards.

Danvers boxscore

Wayland boxscore

(The pictures above and below enlarge significantly if you click on them.)

Harry Leavitt layup

Nick McKenna shoots triple in front of Danvers crowd

Eric Martin steals from Harry Leavitt

Robert Williams looks for the final shot

Jaleel Bell (#2) fouled out

Eric Martin defends

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Danvers cruises to D3 North semis with (75-45) win over Pentucket

Will Angelini (20 points) contests George Merry (13 points)

Eric Martin (23 points) including nineteen in the first half

(Danvers) The Danvers Falcons made it look way too easy as they buried Pentucket, 75-45, in the D3 North quarterfinals on Saturday night at DHS.

Danvers moves on to face Wayland in the D3 North semifinals at Wilmington High School on Tuesday (7PM).

In this one, Danvers (17-4) broke away from a 6-6 tie after four minutes and by halftime were in complete control (44-24).

Pentucket (14-8) was smothered defensively down one end and victimized down the other end by a team packed with players able to get to the rim.

Danvers scored twenty-five baskets in the first three quarters and twenty-one of them were layups or converted rebounds.  Let’s just say they turned up plenty of high percentage shots.

Junior Eric Martin (23 points) had nineteen in the first half.  Danny Connors (18 points) added twelve first half points.

Meanwhile, Pentucket had very few good looks thanks to persistent man-to-man pressure.  A big plus for Danvers was that defenders had shot-blockers beyond them closer to the basket.  There were very few easy Sachem attempts.

6-6 Will Angelini (20 points) led Pentucket scorers with nifty moves around the basket.  When he went out with his second foul with 2 ½ minutes left in the first quarter the Danvers lead was only 13-8.  The rest of the quarter the Falcons put a 10-4 run in place and took a 23-12 lead over the team from West Newbury.

Danny Connors (18 points) layup

Halfway through the second period that 11-point quarter edge had become twenty (38-18) and you knew that things were not likely to get any closer.  The Falcon advantage increased to 63-34 by the end of the third quarter.

The most exciting play of the game was in the second quarter when Will Angelini flew in from the right on a feed from Patrick Kelly and put down a rousing dunk.

When DHS coach John Walsh announced in the press that Corey McNamara was the best shooter he had seen this year,  you knew that the word would reach the Falcon defenders.  Corey has been no stranger to tight coverage this season.  That Danvers could limit the senior to eight points says something about their defenders.

One nice thing about this type of game is that the reserves get to play in front of a large crowd.  There were people turned away.

Corey McNamara (8 points) defended by Jon Amico

DHS is close to installing permanent bleachers.  The extra seating provided by those bleachers would have helped in handling a crowd estimated between 800-1000.

The students on hand were especially well behaved after school officials got within range of them.

The lights in the gym flickered with about six minutes left.  Someone quipped at the time that the lights had gone out for Pentucket quite a while earlier.

6-7 George Merry ran into foul trouble covering Will Angelini but still ended up with thirteen points.

Will Angelini and Corey McNamara have been significant players for the Sachems for a number of seasons.  There was seldom a game in which they weren’t heavily covered. They still managed to score a lot of points.  Replacing the two of them will be a huge challenge for PHS coach Leo Parent.

After watching Danvers play I left wondering how any team in D3 can beat them.  They executed so well at both ends.

Danvers is a team that plays the regular season against D2 teams and then drops down to D3 for the tournament.  Most D3 schools in that arrangement struggle to qualify for the tournament (10 wins) and often need the Sullivan Rule to get in.  Not Danvers. They won the challenging Northeast Conference (South) this season.  They could well be playing in the Worcester Centrum later this month.

Two coaches with games tomorrow were in the crowd – Tom L’Italien (Newburyport) and John McNamara (Pentucket girls).

Danvers boxscore

Pentucket boxscore

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

Will Angelini

Nolan Dragon

Danny Connors and Parker Kelly

action under the basket

Will Angelini floats in

George Merry

Nick Bates looks for an opening

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Rebuilding Amesbury High School Boys Basketball

Coach Thom Connors with his two basketball captains - Tyler Lay and James Parady

You win some. You lose some.  This suggests balanced results.

Nice adage, but not applicable to the 2009-10 Amesbury boys basketball team.

When I visited AHS on January 25th, the team was 1-13.

I hoped to find a silver lining and was not disappointed.

Coach Thom Connors was neither surprised nor upset with the record so far.  “We are a young team (two seniors) and clearly trying to rebuild.”

When Coach Connors (6th season) talks “rebuilding” he means all the way through the system.  “The three teams at the high school have all implemented the same style of play.”

In the meantime, the losses pile up.  I walked in on a JV game that had Amesbury trailing North Reading, 45-12.  However, to Coach Connors the scoreboard is incidental for the time being.  “Our goal in each game is to get better,” he explained.  “If we do our best we can go away satisfied.”

He credited his two captains (junior Tyler Lay and senior James Parady) for helping move the rebuilding program along.  “They both play three sports and are in leadership positions (James captains basketball and baseball – Tyler is next year’s football captain). They understand that the teams we play now are better than us and that skills development is crucial for us to be more competitive.”

Being a senior, James Parady, looks for gratification for his hard work now.  “I keep coming back for more because I want to win, everyone on the team does.  If we put together a complete game of team basketball we have a chance to do that.”

I was at Bentley University (Waltham) on December 6, 2008 and saw the Amesbury football team defeat Martha’s Vineyard to win the Division 3A Super Bowl.  The coach of that football team was Thom Connors.  When he talks about building a program, he’s been there, done it. 

Can he do it with Amesbury boys basketball is to be determined over the next couple of years.  He was part of Neil Reardon’s girls basketball program in Newburyport for ten years so he knows what a good program in basketball looks like.

Of major importance to Coach Connors is to love what you’re doing.  “I tell kids that I love to coach and that I hope that they love to play.”

“We all like to play,” admitted Tyler Lay.  “We play our hardest no matter what the record of our opponents.”

Nevertheless, despite all of the “keep your eyes off the scoreboard” talk, the most exciting day for this year’s team was January 18th when the Indians got that first win (49-47 over Danvers) after losing their first twelve. 

“For about 15 seconds afterwards, you’d have thought we had won the Cape Ann League title,” recalled Coach Connors of the exciting home game.  “It was nice not to have to say afterwards that we played well but took a loss.  We needed a win to reward our efforts.”

The irony of the victory was that because of the long Martin Luther King weekend, the team had taken Sunday off with plans to have a shoot-around and go over the Danvers scouting report on Monday morning before the game.  The snowy weather cancelled that preparation.  Therefore, as a result, the team just showed up on Monday afternoon and as James Parady mentioned earlier, “played a complete game,” and got more than “nice try,” out of it.

Coach Connors is optimistic about the games ahead in this season.  “We are getting better and I am enjoying watching the improvement take place. We could win some games.” 

For now, the team works to master the basics, confident that their hard work will eventually pay off on the scoreboard if they do.

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