Danvers High Cagers Keep Making History; The Prep Among the Region’s Best Teams, Too

The unprecedented success of the Danvers High boys’ basketball program last season and this reached another new unimaginable height today when The Boston Globe’s weekly Top 20 poll had the undefeated Falcons (14-0) Numero Uno — Number 1. This achievement marks the first time in school history any major DHS varsity sports team has attained such recognition.

The state champion hockey and baseball teams of recent years never gained the coveted “top of the heap” status from The Globe; nor did the football team when it won the first two Northeastern Conference titles in schoool history during the mid-2000-2009 decade.

Yet another extraordinary accomplishment by a group of young men who snuck up on everyone a year ago en route to their first NEC title (South) in 37 years and who are on the the verge of winning their first outright NEC title since the same year referred to, 1975.

The most astounding aspect of the Falcons’ exalted No. 1 ranking in The Globe is that they earned their respect among the voters while winning the first state championship last March. The voters had high expectations for Danvers this winter and the boys have delivered. No matter that it was the Division 3 title they won. Fact is, rarely — if ever — will you see anything but Division 1 schools atop any of The Globe polls, which are conducted for the football, basketball, hockey and baseball seasons only.

The Falcons, incredibly, outrank currently three Division 1 teams in the 2-3-4 positions: Mansfield (15-1), cross-town rival St. John’s Prep (15-1) and Lawrence Central Catholic (13-3). Moreover, the Falcons are the only undefeated quintet in the top nine. No. 10 North Reading is in the same select company at 15-0.

The Falcons project to win their last four NEC contests between tonight and Friday, February 15, especially with top scorer Nick McKenna, sidelined the last three weeks with mononucleosis,  due back in the lineup Friday at Saugus.

That would most likely keep Danvers No. 1 in the poll leading into the Comcast Invitational, set for Sunday the 17th and Monday the 18th at Babson College. That will be the supreme, end-of-regular-season challenge. Reportedly, Division 1 teams Boston College High (No. 7, 11-3) and No. 15 Newton North (13-2) will face off at 6, followed by Danvers and No. 11 Brighton( 10-3), a Division 2 team, at 8. Winners will play the next night at 8, the losers at 6. The official poairings and times should be announced shortly.

It’s all part of a magical tour the Falcons have traveled from last season to this in which they have compiled a 46-6 record, won their last 18 in a row and posted a 35-4 mark under second-year coach John Walsh.

Who knows where it will end? Maybe not until the Falcons plow through a perfect regular season and another few games for a second straight state title. We shall see soon enough.

The last North Shore squad to go perfect from start to finish? The 1995 Salem High Witches, led by the great Scoonie Penn, who later starred at Boston College and Ohio State. That Witches crew finished 25-0.

Of course, Danvers might very well be called at this moment The Hub of Hoop-mania, what with the Prep and Danvers riding high in both The Globe and ESPN Boston poll. The Prep, led by former Providence College and Ohio State standout Sean Connolly, is No. 2 in the ESPNBoston poll. Danvers stands at No. 4. If only the hoop gods could intercede and make possible a Danvers-Prep showdown in the next week to 10 days. Sadly, it isn’t possible. But it’s a beautiful play on the Prep-Danvers baseball dynasties of the last 10-15 years, in which Danvers native Pat Yanchus has created a powerhouse at the Prep and Roger Day has done the same with the Falcons. Yanchus is already in the Massachusetts High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.  Day was inducted the end of January. Now it’s happening in hoops. What a golden era in Prep-Danvers round ball sports.

It should be noted, too, that the Prep remains a state title contender annually in virtually all of its other sports, including hockey, and last December won the Division 1 Super Bowl in football. Maybe it’s something in the Danvers water supply these days.

How about state titles for both the Prep and Danvers basketball teams come mid-March?




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