Tag Archives: George Merry

Nick McKenna leads Danvers past St. Joseph’s (59-47) to Division 3 state title

Nick McKenna (18 points) caught fire in the second half

George Merry (11 points) with the title trophy

(Worcester) Danvers 59 St. Joseph Central 47

The Falcons (21-4) are Division 3 champs after capturing their first state basketball title in a game played at the Worcester Centrum on Saturday afternoon.

Everyone knows that basketball is a team game, so singling anyone out runs the risk of overlooking the contributions of the other four.  But this game may be a worthy exception to that school of thought.

Nick McKenna (18 points) almost single-handedly took a Danvers’ team that was on the ropes midway through the 3rd period and shot them to a commanding lead by the middle of the 4th period.

The Falcon deficit was six (37-31) with 3:32 left in the third.  Enter Nick McKenna. By the time Nick was done scoring for the night, Danvers was in charge (50-41) with four minutes left in the game.  He had fifteen points in the 19-4 Falcon run.

There was not a clue that Nick would go off like this.  He did have a buzzer beater from near midcourt at the end of the second quarter but was scoreless other than that.

Nick was part of a Danvers streak of nine straight (George Merry had a jumper) that gave the Falcons the lead for good, 40-37, at the start of the final quarter.  Mike Carpenter (12 points) answered with a runner in the lane for the Crusaders.

Tank Roberson (13 points)

Nick responded with two jumpers, Tank Roberson with a converted rebound.  This made it, 44-41, with 5:46 remaining. Still anyone’s game.

But there was more Nick.  He added two free throws and a layup, sandwiched around two Dan Connors (17 points) free throws.  Those points took the lead to 50-41 with four minutes left.  Now it was the Crusaders turn to struggle to find offense.

And struggle they did.  Over the last four minutes St. Joe’s (20-6) only had long ones by Tank Roberson and Mike Carpenter but gained no ground because of seven Falcon free throws and a George Merry (11 points) jam in the last minute.

I was very impressed with the defense of the team from Pittsfield.  They forced 6-7 George Merry away from the basket and though undersized rebounded well.

Danvers jumped off to a 6-0 lead but St. Joe’s rallied back to tie things at 17-17 after a Joe Wiggins layup off a Falcon turnover.  Later in the second period the Crusaders ran six straight (Mike McMahon converted rebound, Joe Wiggins layup, and a runner in the lane from Mike Carpenter) to gain a 4-point spread (25-21) before Nick McKenna’s buzzer beater ended the first half scoring.

The team from Pittsfield would built their advantage to six (37-31) in the third period before Nick McKenna put on a remarkable offensive show to carry the Falcons to their first basketball title.

The Division 3 champs had almost everyone from Danvers on hand cheering them on.

Dan Connors (17 points) defends

Dan Connors had the quietest seventeen points you could get.  Nothing long range in the mix. Most of them from just being around the basket in the right place at the right time.

Eric Martin (9 points) handled intense man-to-man pressure from Tank Roberson (13 points) the whole game.  There were few turnovers.  Eric did turn his ankle over late in the game.

I saw all of Danvers tourney games and winning the D3 championship was certainly a memorable game.  The most memorable one for me, however, was their miraculous comeback against Wayland at Lawrence High School.  Can a team overcome a 10-point deficit in 1 ½ minutes?  Danvers did against Wayland.

St. Joe’s won the state title in 2001.

Danvers boxscore

St. Joe’s boxscore

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

team celebrates

Mike McMahon (12 points) and George Merry

Eric Martin (9 points) dribbles

Mike Carpenter (12 points) saves

Danvers coach John Walsh

Nick McKenna

Danvers cheerleaders

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Danvers beats undefeated Wareham (68-45) to take D3 state semi-finals

Danvers players celebrate win over Wareham

Darien Fernandez (19 points) turns the corner

(Boston) Undefeated Wareham erased a ten-point deficit with twelve straight points in two minutes against Danvers.

Time to panic, now trailing 32-30? Not the 2011-12 edition of the Danvers Falcons.

The Northeast Conference champs (20-4) responded with a mind-boggling 30-to-4 run over the next eight minutes and went on to blow away the Vikings, 68-45, on Monday at the TD Garden to win the D3 state semi-finals.

When that amazing 30-to-4 segment ended there were still 6 ½ minutes left (60-36) to play. The rest of the way was all high-fives and smiles for the winners.  One big benefit of the way things went was that every player on the two rosters got a chance to play at the Garden.

Danvers moves on to the Worcester Centrum on Saturday with a chance for a state title.

George Merry (22 points) dribbles

It was apparent early on that 6-7 George Merry (22 points) was going to be a serious problem for the Viking defense.  And as has happened in the tournament, when a defense concentrates on George, other Falcons, after quick ball movement, get open looks.  Nick Bates (17 points) took full advantage in the early going as Danvers led, 21-9, after a quarter.

The Vikings started to show some life in the second quarter.  A run of seven (Aaron Baptiste triple, two Jeff Houde free throws, and a Darien Fernandez layup) closed things to 24-18 midway through the second period.

Two free throws (Jeff Houde) ended the first half but they were the beginning of a 12-point lightning run by the Vikings.  Two quick triples (Stefan Montiero and Aaron Baptiste) to start the second half and Wareham was completely energized.  The defense swarmed the Falcons and Danvers surrendered two more baskets and the lead.

As I suggested earlier, down 32-30 with most of the second half left was not likely to be of great concern to the Falcons.  All you had to do was be on hand at Lawrence High School when Danvers was down to Wayland by ten points with 1:28 left in the game, to realize that the Falcons can recover from adversity.

Nick Bates (17 points) shoots triple

Three straight triples (Nick McKenna one and Nick Bates two) did the trick this time and Danvers went up by seven (39-32).  At that point Darien Fernandez (19 points) hit a jump shot.  But before Wareham would score another point, the Falcons reeled off thirteen straight during the next four minutes and made their lead, 52-34.

So in one quarter, the Vikings went from down eight (30-22) to up two (32-30) to down eighteen (54-36).  Both cheering sections had plenty to cheer and groan about!

During the big Falcon run, the Vikings joined the list of teams discovering that Danvers has numerous scoring weapons.  George Merry had only eight of the thirty points.  Nick McKenna (12 points) had ten while Nick Bates added eight.  Jon Amico had a steal and a layup while Dan Connors cashed a jumper at the end of the run.

The Vikings also found out that there wouldn’t be too many easy shots from in close with a shot-blocker such as George Merry in the area.  5-8 Darien Fernandez did make several acrobatic layups with George in the area.

Point guard Eric Martin continues to distribute effectively.  He also was a crucial part of Danvers ability to handle the intense full-court pressure of Wareham.

Both teams made five triples.

Wareham (24-1) has won the South Coast League six straight years.  They also won the state title two years ago.

Danvers boxscore

Wareham boxscore

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

Darien Fernandez heads for the hoop

Danvers coach John Walsh

George Merry defends against Aaron Baptiste

Eric Martin and Nick McKenna defend

ball goes out of bounds

Eric Martin

Danvers cheerleaders

Nick McKenna (12 points)

Jeff Houde (14 points) defends George Merry

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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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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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