Tag Archives: Nick McKenna

Danvers downs Smith Academy 66-50 to get second straight Division 3 title

Danvers - 2012-13 Division 3 champs

Danvers – 2012-13 Division 3 champs

Mat Sulda, Derek McMahon, Coach Matt Zerneri, Seaver Rickert

Mat Sulda, Derek McMahon, Coach Matt Zerneri, Seaver Rickert

(Worcester) No last-minute heroics needed by Danvers this time.

After coming dangerously close to exiting from the tournament in the D3 North finals (Wayland) and the state semifinals (Martha’s Vineyard), Danvers pulled ahead of Smith Academy by double figures for good early in the final quarter and won the state title, 66-50, on Saturday afternoon at the DCU Center in Worcester.

This was Danvers (24-2) second straight Division 3 title.

(Both teams are the Falcons.)

DHS was hot during the first nine minutes against the SA zone burning the visitors from Hatfield with five three’s (Nick McKenna 3, Nick Bates and Eric Martin 1 each) and getting a 22-6 spread.  Was this going to be a blowout?  Hardly.

You live by the three, you can also die by it.  Danvers cooled off in the second quarter and Smith rattled off thirteen unanswered points.  While Danvers was pointless for nearly seven minutes SA closed to 22-19 before a Nick Bates layup in the last three seconds.

Mat Sulda (11 points) tries to get by Nick McKenna (20 points)

Mat Sulda (11 points) tries to get by Nick McKenna (20 points)

That five-point halftime lead (24-19) would shrink to two (24-22) and even one (26-25) on an old-fashioned three by Seaver Rickert (13 points) just a minute into the second half.

Nick Bates (12 points) responded with an old-fashioned three of his own and Seaver Rickert scored from in close on a pass from Derek McMahon.

At this point Danvers lead was a mere two points (29-27) with 6 ½ minutes to play in the third quarter.  This was when the pull away began for the Eastern Mass champs.

Danvers crafted two minutes of unanswered offense (seven points) getting a jump shot from Nick Bates, a free throw by Danny Connors (12 points), and two jump shots by Nick McKenna (20 points).  Suddenly, Smith Academy was down nine (36-27).

The Western Mass champs would cut the lead to six (38-32) before Vinny Clifford (11 points) struck from the corner on an inbounds play.

Vinny Clifford (11 points) guards David Longstreeth

Vinny Clifford (11 points) guards David Longstreeth

This make was crucial for Danvers because cold Vinny had now become hot Vinny.  The 6-2 sophomore had been through a disastrous first half missing every shot (including several air balls) and had a couple of turnovers.

But now Vinny was hot and he scored the next eleven Danvers points, including eight of them in the first two minutes of the final quarter.

While Vinny was making shots (a jump shot and two 3’s), SA was making only three-of-six free throws.  The result of all this activity was a 50-37 Danvers lead with six minutes to go.

Smith rallied to within ten (58-48) as David Longstreeth connected from long range and Will Halloran put in a layup with 2:19 left.

But Danvers took the “scary” out of the rest of the game by making six straight free throws and getting a Nick McKenna layup off of a steal to notch their second straight championship.

All five of the Danvers starters ended up in double figures.

Eric Martin (11 points) was at his best in the second half when Smith moved to full-court pressure in the second half.  There were very few Danvers turnovers.

Nick McKenna goes baseline

Nick McKenna goes baseline

Nick McKenna’s defense was a key to the win as he guarded Mat Sulda (11 points).  The speedy 5-10 lefty had been averaging 19.3 points per game.

Nick Bates had a double/double getting thirteen rebounds to go along with his twelve points.

This was the first state final for Smith Academy since 1992.

Mat Sulda ended up with 1579 career points.  Both his uncle and his grandfather were 1000-point scorers at Smith.

Danvers returned four starters to this year’s team but graduated was 6-7 George Merry (WPI).  The 2012-13 squad had to adjust significantly.  Gone were George’s interior defense and inside scoring.  But credit Coach John Walsh, the team adjusted well enough to win a second title.

Danvers boxscore

Smith Academy boxscore

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

Derek McMahon takes off with a turnover

Derek McMahon takes off with a turnover

loose ball

loose ball

Danny Connors (12 points) and Seaver Rickert (13 points)

Danny Connors (12 points) and Seaver Rickert (13 points)

Mat Sulda skies

Mat Sulda skies

Eric Martin, Danny Connors, Coach John Walsh, Nick McKenna, Nick Bates

Eric Martin, Danny Connors, Coach John Walsh, Nick McKenna, Nick Bates

rebound

rebound

Keith Natale and Nick Bates (12 points)

Keith Natale and Nick Bates (12 points)

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Danvers gets it done 50-47 defeating Martha’s Vineyard and reaching state D3 finals

Garden party begins

Garden party begins

Izak Browne (17 points) heads for the last shot

Izak Browne (17 points) heads for the last shot

(Boston) Until Izak Browne’s 3-point attempt from just inside half court went wide left, the outcome of the Danvers/Martha’s Vineyard game was in doubt.

But the game-tying attempt missed and Danvers had a 50-47 D3 state semi-finals win at the TD Garden on Tuesday night.

The exciting victory earned the Falcons (23-2) another trip to Worcester for a chance for consecutive state Division 3 titles.  Last year Danvers defeated St. Joe’s of Pittsfield in the championship match.

Game time on Saturday is 12:30PM at the DCU Center and the opponent will be Smith Academy of Hatfield (25 miles north of Springfield).

The state semi-finals put two very good teams together.  Danvers had the big-game experience but MV (18-6) had terrific athletes and could make 3’s.

Brandon Watkins chases a loose ball

Brandon Watkins chases a loose ball

There were fourteen lead changes and two ties.  That combination provided more than enough opportunities for fans from both schools to either cheer and groan.

Ultimately Danvers big-game experience made the difference…….but barely.

The Vineyard tied the score (41-41) on a three by Jack Roberts (12 points) with 3 ½ minutes left in the game.  Less than a minute later Jack connected on a short baseline floater and MV had a two-point lead (43-41) with 2:42 to go.

Kieran Beck reaches in and forces a turnover

Kieran Beck reaches in and forces a turnover

Down but not out, the Falcons were able to make good things happen on defense as they trapped dribblers and jumped passing lanes.  Three straight MV frontcourt turnovers resulted and Danvers was able to run six straight points to get up, 47-43, with forty seconds left.

The Falcons points came on two free throws each by Nick Bates and Danny Connors.  The other score was an Eric Martin basket assisted by Nick McKenna.

Danvers now in control?  No.

After a Navardo Anderson miss, Nick McKenna made one of two free throws (48-43) with twenty-seven seconds left.  Jack Roberts followed with two made free throws (48-45) while Eric Martin missed both of his with 11.8 seconds left.

Nick McKenna makes two free throws with 4.7 seconds left in the game

Nick McKenna makes two free throws with 4.7 seconds left in the game

Brandon Watkins went the length of the court (in a hurry) to reduce the Danvers margin to one (48-47) with 5.8 seconds to go.  Nick McKenna then received the inbounds pass, was immediately fouled, and sank two huge free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining.

Izak Browne (17 points) had a pretty good look at a last-second, game-tying shot but he didn’t come close to hitting it.

Both teams will surely look back at this game and think of  how much better they could have played.  Danvers missed eleven free throws in twenty-three tries including six in the final quarter.  Martha’s Vineyard did not take good care of the ball.  The team from the Eastern Athletic Conference had seventeen turnovers including six in the final quarter and three after they had a 2-point lead (43-41) in the late stages of the game.  MV also missed seven of eleven free throw attempts.

In a game with lead changes, missed free throws, and plenty at stake, the pressure on both teams was incredible.

Nick Bates (12 points), Nick McKenna (11 points), and Danny Connors (10 points) led the Falcons in scoring.

Izak Browne soars into a shot

Izak Browne soars into a shot

Izak Browne (17 points) and Jack Roberts (12 points) reached double figures for Martha’s Vineyard.

MV connected seven times from long range while Danvers had four 3-pointers.

Jake Cawlina (hero in the win over Wayland) hit a three in the second quarter.

Danvers had only six turnovers in the game.  Three of them were in the tension-filled final quarter.

The state semi-finals was the furthest Martha’s Vineyard had ever been.  They last played in the Garden in 1977.

Danvers boxscore

Martha’s Vineyard boxscore

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

Navardo Anderson drives on Nick McKenna

Navardo Anderson drives on Nick McKenna

Nick McKenna (11 points) looks for an opening

Nick McKenna (11 points) looks for an opening

Eric Martin drives

Eric Martin drives

Danvers celebrates

Danvers celebrates

Nick Bates (12 points)

Nick Bates (12 points)

Jack Roberts (12 points)

Jack Roberts (12 points)

loose ball late in the game

loose ball late in the game

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Danvers wins last-minute thriller 57-52 over Wayland to get D3 North title

Danvers celebrates last-minute win over Wayland

Danvers celebrates last-minute win over Wayland

Reserve Jake Cawlina (9 points) saved the day for the Falcons

Reserve Jake Cawlina (9 points) saved the day for the Falcons

(Lowell) If you saw last year’s game between Danvers and Wayland you knew what to expect….end of the game excitement.

The Falcons (22-2) broke free from a tie game in the last minute and defeated the Warriors, 57-52, to win the Division 3 North title at the Tsongas Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Danvers will face Martha’s Vineyard (17-5) in the state D3 semifinal game at the TD Bank Garden on Tuesday.  The finals are at the Worcester Centrum on Saturday.

Last time against Wayland, a 3-point shot by reserve Mike Scarfo was part of a 10-point rally that forced overtime in the Falcon’s 70-67 win.  Today it was seldom-used, senior Jake Cawlina who saved the day for Danvers.

With Dan Connors in game-long foul trouble and Vinny Clifford not as accurate as he has been recently, DHS coach John Walsh gave Jake a chance.  Nine points later Jake made the coach look like a genius.

Jake entered the game in the second quarter and nailed two 3’s as part of a ten-point run that gave Danvers its largest lead of the half, 31-20, with a minute left until halftime.

Jaleel Bell (17 points) with Eric Martin

Jaleel Bell (17 points) with Eric Martin

The Falcon advantage would grow to 35-23 two minutes into the second half but the never-say-die Warriors erased their entire deficit and had Danvers in a 52-52 tie with 1:41 left.

The Falcons extended their next possession with an offensive rebound and Jake Cawlina then hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give the Falcons a 3-point lead (55-52) with fifty-five seconds left.

But Jake was not done contributing.  On Wayland’s next possession, he and reserve Kieran Beck got Yannick Schaefer in a trap and Kieran stole the ball.

Danvers ran clock before Eric Martin fed Nick Bates cutting down the lane for the layup that sealed the deal (57-52) for the Falcons with thirteen seconds left.

Certainly a key to the Danvers win was limiting Jaleel Bell to seventeen points on 8-for-15 shooting.  Eric Martin was the primary defender.

Jaleel had 34 points/14 rebounds/9 steals in the Warriors semifinal win over North Reading.  Jaleel’s line today showed no rebounds or steals.

Nick Bates (13 points) heads for two

Nick Bates (13 points) heads for two

Nick McKenna (14 points) and Nick Bates (13 points) led the Danvers scorers.

Eric Martin had nine points and five assists plus the great defense on Jaleel Bell.

Dan Connors tallied only four points as fouls kept him on the bench more than on the floor.  He had three fouls in the first quarter and sat out the second quarter.  Thirty seconds into the third quarter he had his 4th and was benched.  Four minutes into the final quarter he was done for the game.  Dan’s inside scoring/rebounding were sorely missed.

Harry Leavitt (9 points) drove in for the layup that tied the score at 52-52.

Harry was part of 10-point run by the Warriors (19-5) in the third quarter.  He had a layup and two free throws.  Jaleel Bell, who had eleven points in the third quarter, added two layups and Greg Karpacz also had a layup.  That collection of unanswered points put Wayland within two (35-33) with four minutes left.

Eric Martin was part of quick five points in the first quarter.  He assisted on Nick McKenna’s three and then stole the inbounds pass and tallied a layup.

looking for a rebound

looking for a rebound

Wayland coach Dennis Doherty is probably wondering what this game would have looked like at the end if his team hadn’t missed eleven-of-fifteen free throws including three that were the front ends of one-and-one’s.

Danvers wasn’t too much better from the line.  They missed six-of-nine attempts including one front end of a one-and-one.

The Falcons have eliminated Wayland from the tournament three straight years.

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

All eyes on a Vinny Clifford three

All eyes on a Vinny Clifford three

foul-plagued Dan Connors

foul-plagued Dan Connors

Kieran Beck

Kieran Beck

Yannick Schaefer

Yannick Schaefer

holding

holding

Eric Martin in Wayland traffic

Eric Martin in Wayland traffic

loose ball

loose ball

D3 North champs

D3 North champs

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Danvers reaches Division 4 North finals (again) after defeating Whittier 69-51

whda A11 Eric Martin defended by Ryan Grant

Nick Bates (19 points) goes for the block against Justin Reyes (22 points)

Nick Bates (19 points) goes for the block against Justin Reyes (22 points)

Justin Reyes soars for two over Nick McKenna

Justin Reyes soars for two over Nick McKenna

(Byfield)  Another convincing win for Danvers as they defeat Whittier, 69-51, in the Division 3 North semifinals at Triton on Tuesday night.

The Falcons will face the winner of the Wayland/North Reading game at the Tsongas Center on Saturday for the D3 North championship.

Last year in the North semifinals, the Falcons rallied from a ten-point deficit in the final 1:28 to shock Wayland.  That would surely be an interesting rematch in the North finals this time around.

Danvers (21-3) led from wire-to-wire against Whittier (20-3).  Their attack was well-organized and productive.

The Falcons took on the outside what the Wildcat defense gave them and it was plenty.

When the Wildcats tried to protect the inside from the penetrating attempts of Eric Martin, choice outside goodies turned up for Nick Bates, Nick McKenna, and Vinny Clifford.

Danny Connors (13 points) inside for two

Danny Connors (13 points) inside for two

When the fifth starter (Dan Connors) had solo coverage near the hoop the Falcons would find him.

With good-look outside shots appearing regularly, Danvers was able to put together consecutive runs of points in each of the first three quarters.  The trio of runs doomed Whittier.

Whittier was two dimensional (Ryan Grant and Justin Reyes) and despite getting forty-two points between them, they were mostly of the highly-contested, low-percentage variety.  Thus the Wildcats could never put more than two baskets together in a row while the outcome was still in question.

The first Danvers’ run (five points) came right away – Danny Connors putback of a rebound and a Nick Bates three.  This segment put the Falcons in front, 5-0.

Nick McKenna (13 points) defended by Ryan Grant (20 points)

Nick McKenna (13 points) defended by Ryan Grant (20 points)

The Danvers lead after a quarter was 15-11.

The Wildcats were only down four (19-15) after a Ryan Grant (20 points) layup.  Then the second Falcon run (eleven points) happened.  Vinny Clifford (14 points) started it with a jump shot.  Nick Bates (19 points) added a three (his second) before Nick McKenna (17 points) made a jumper in the lane and two free throws.  The last two points were by Nick Bates on an assisted layup from Eric Martin.

This run sent Whittier to a fifteen-point deficit (30-15) with 1:47 left in the second quarter.  The Wildcats closed to nine (33-24) as Justin Reyes (22 points) nailed a buzzer-beater off the backboard to end the first half.

Whittier started the second half with a Justin Reyes free throw but then came Falcon Run #3 (fourteen points) and this one took the outcome mystery out of this game.

Vinny Clifford (14 points) fires a three over Nathan Frongillo

Vinny Clifford (14 points) fires a three over Nathan Frongillo

Remarkably, four different Danvers’ players (Vinny Clifford, Nick McKenna, Nick Bates, and Danny Connors) hit three’s in this segment.  Danny’s was an old-fashioned three and he followed those points with a layup.

The four 3-point baskets were all assisted – three by Eric Martin and one by Nick Bates.  It was terrific basketball to watch………..if you were wearing Danvers blue.

Those 2 ½ minutes of pure Danvers offense elevated their spread to twenty-two (47-25) with thirteen minutes of basketball left.  The Wildcats would “win” the rest of the game, 26-22, but the cows had left the barn.

Clearly there was a contrasting style of play between the teams.  Whittier was all about Justin Reyes or Ryan Grant (20 points) creating openings for themselves.  Justin’s quickness and Ryan’s dribbling enabled them to do just that on occasion.  Most of the Whittier turnovers (they had eighteen by my count) came from trying to set up teammates.

Danvers, on the other hand,  ran organized offense with plenty of passes and movement.  Eric Martin had the ball to start almost every possession and his ability to set up teammates was excellent as shown at the start of the second half.  Whittier coach Tom Sipsey ran a number of defenders at Eric but with little effect.  Danvers had only three turnovers when this game was still competitive.

The Triton gym was packed with plenty of support for both teams.  The chanting was above board after the, “You’re all ugly,” attempt was squelched.

Eric Martin passes

Eric Martin passes

Danvers made eight three’s in the game while Whittier had four.

Danvers state-final opponent (St. Joe’s of Pittsfield) from 2012 is still alive in the West.

Justin Reyes and Ryan Grant were co-MVP’s in the Commonwealth Conference this year.

Vinny Clifford had four 3’s in the second half.  He had seven 3’s last game against Minutemen in the quarterfinals.

Danvers Boxscore

Whittier Boxscore

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

Justin Reyes gets inside

Justin Reyes gets inside

Ryan Grant goes baseline

Ryan Grant goes baseline

Ryan Grant, Eric Martin, Danny Connors

Ryan Grant, Eric Martin, Danny Connors

Nick McKenna (13 points)

Nick McKenna (13 points)

Justin Reyes fouls out

Justin Reyes fouls out

Eric Martin defended by Ryan Grant

Eric Martin defended by Ryan Grant

Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells

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Danvers defeats Lynn English 90-70 to remain undefeated after seven games in boys basketball

Nick McKenna (23 points) gets two

Nick McKenna (23 points) gets two

Dan Connors (20 points) heads for the hoop

Dan Connors (20 points) heads for the hoop

(Danvers)  Danvers (7-0) put together a thirty point third quarter and defeated Lynn English (4-4), 90-70, on Wednesday night at Danvers in Northeastern Conference action.

This game was fast-paced from beginning to end as both teams applied full-court pressure.  That pressure produced more fastbreaks than it did turnovers.  On this night, the Falcons were better finishers, often making an extra pass to get an open layup.

The defending Division 3 state champs, if anything, look stronger than last year.  So far they have won every game by at least twenty points.

All five starters for Danvers reached double figures with Nick McKenna leading the way with twenty-three.

Fred Hogan (21 points) gets a three at the buzzer

Fred Hogan (21 points) gets a three at the buzzer

The twenty-point spread at the end was a bit misleading because the Bulldogs only trailed by four (42-38) at halftime.

The possibility of the Bulldogs going on in the second half to pull the upset vanished as the Falcons exploded during a four-minute segment of their thirty-point third quarter.

With 5 ½ minutes left in the third quarter, the Falcon lead was just five (49-44).  During the next four minutes the game got away from the Bulldogs as Danvers outscored them, 19-4, to race to a twenty-point lead (68-48).

This game ended with a twenty-point difference so the two teams were even on the scoreboard over the remaining nine minutes of playing time.

During the crucial run, Vinny Clifford (16 points) collected eight points including a pair of 3’s.  Teammate Dan Connors (20 points) also added eight points getting his from in close.

Eric Martin (13 points and 8 assists) and Stevie Collins (6 points)

Eric Martin (13 points and 8 assists) and Stevie Collins (6 points)

The Falcons had the long-ball going (they made eight 3’s) and they also had plenty of assisted baskets.  I had point guard Eric Martin down for eight assists.  Eric had the knack of drawing the defense to him and then feeding to open players lining up 3’s.  Nick McKenna had five long ones.

It is easy to go on and on raving about Danvers but undersized Lynn English never quit no matter what the score was.  Their speed was impressive and their willingness to go at the Falcons led to some acrobatic shots.  Unfortunately, the visitors missed a ton of layups or this game could have been closer.

Fred Hogan (21), Erick Rosario (15), and Johnny Hilaire (12) led the Bulldogs in scoring.

LE got down 29-14 early in the second quarter but Erick Rosario put five points into seven straight Bulldog points to close that gap.  The Bulldogs finished the final 2:22 of the half with a 10-1 segment as Fred Hogan cashed seven points including a last-second three to pull LE to 42-38 at the half.

Erick Rosario (15 points) goes for two

Erick Rosario (15 points) goes for two

In the fourth quarter the Bulldogs had every reason to lose heart down 77-54 with seven minutes left.  Instead LE put up twelve unanswered points getting four each from Erik Rosario and Johnny Hilaire over the next 3+ minutes and the difference between the two teams was eleven (77-66).

But Danvers is so explosive that one minute later they had put together seven consecutive points (Nick Bates had three of them) and an eleven point lead quickly jumped back to eighteen, 84-66.

The next game for Lynn English will be at Winthrop on Friday night (7PM).  Danvers will be hosting Salem at the same time on the same night.

I suspect that it will be a standing-room only crowd at that Danvers/Salem game.  One side of the court still doesn’t have the wooden bleachers in place.

Johnny Hilaire took a Falcon turnover (they had thirteen) in for a dunk in the fourth quarter.

Dan Connors found plenty of openings in close.

Nick Bates (14 points) takes a three over Anthony Silfa (11)

Nick Bates (14 points) takes a three over Anthony Silfa (11)

Nick Bates went coast-to-coast after getting a rebound in the last two minutes of the game.

This was my first time seeing Danvers play since March 17, 2012 at the Worcester Centrum when they defeated St. Joseph’s of Pittsfield, 59-47, to win the D3 state title.

It is not hard to imagine the Falcons being the number one seed in Division 3 North come tournament time.  I know, there are a lot of regular season games left!  Just sayin’.

Danvers boxscoreLynn English boxscore

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

Danny Lukanda blocks

Danny Lukanda blocks

Danvers cheerleaders

Danvers cheerleaders

Brian Redondo goes for the fake

Brian Redondo goes for the fake

Erick Rosario

Erick Rosario

Fred Hogan shoots

Fred Hogan shoots

Ben Bowden (11 points)

Ben Bowden (11 points)

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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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