Danvers High Hoopsters Roll Merry-ly Along

Peter Merry, the undefeated Danvers High boys basketball team’s towering pivotman, is the first to admit he isn’t as talented as his older brother George, who led the Falcons to their first ever state championship in 2012. In the process George became Danvers’ first all-scholastic (Boston Globe and Boston Herald) since Dana Skinner in the 1970s.

Nonetheless, Peter, at 6-10, has proven to be an invaluable — and irreplaceable — member of arguably the best starting five on the North Shore. In playing a major role in the Falcons’ 10-0 start, Merry has more than lived up to expectations as the next Merry big man.

Peter’s ┬áprimary strengths are his shot blocking, rebounding and overall guardianship of Danvers’ inside-the-lane defense, his mere presence an intimidating issue with which rival teams must deal.

But when the opportunity presents itself as the third, fourth or sometimes fifth option in the Falcons’ offensive schemes, Merry can be unstoppable; witness his 36-point performance in a 67-56 home court victory over Lynn Classical in which Peter made his first 10 shots on a variety of inside power moves and finished 14-for-17 from the floor. Peter also added 12 rebounds and six blocks for his evening’s work, clearly his career game to date as a Falcon.

“That was Peter Merry at his finest,” DHS coach John Walsh said after the Classical game. “We’d like to see him score 36 every night, but that’s not realistic. Some nights he doesn’t figure into our scoring much at all, but the other things he does for us are vital, some obvious and some not so obvious. His rebounding and shot-blocking speak for themselves, but the way he moves around inside to protect the basket and make opposing players alter their shots plays a big role in our success on a nightly basis.”

Such as in Games 8 and 9, wins at Beverly, 66-42, and at home the other night to Salem, 39-37, where Merry was shut out from the field but had nine rebounds and 12 blocks at Beverly and five blocks and nine rebounds against Salem and made two critical foul shots, the last two the Falcons made in the nail biter. Moreover, he forced Beverly and Salem shooters on several occasions to take unnatural shots to avoid Merry’s long arms and rejection-geared hands.

With four offensive-minded teammates on the starting five, all of whom can take the three or penetrate to the basket, Merry understands he won’t on most nights get a large chunk of field goal attempts, but he’s happy to get what scoring opportunities he can, whether they come from feed-ins or offensive rebounds.

At the same time, Walsh and big-man assistant coach Jarhon Giddings continue working with Merry to make their senior center more accessible for passes from the wings or out top.

“It’s been an exciting four years for me,” says Merry.”First watching my brother star, take the team to the Garden and win a state title in Worcester. We didn’t quite get there last year (moving up from Division 3 to Division 2, posting a 20-3 record and losing in the Div. 2 North final to New Mission), but we hope this season’s a different story. A long ways to go, but we’ve done alright to this point.

“My Classical game? That was one of those nights when I was really feeling it offensively. The guys got me the ball and I had the room to make my moves. Other games teams have done a good job clogging the middle making it tougher for Devan (Harris) and me to get the ball and go to the basket. But we’re working on that too.”

A product of the town’s youth basketball program, Merry initially played soccer as well. But once he got the basketball bug he became an all-hoops, all-the-time player.

“George inspired me to work harder and harder,” Peter says. “It’s paid off. But at the same time I appreciate that people realize I’m a different kind of player than George, trying to play my role as best I can.”

It’s a role that can change from night to night, but that’s fine with Peter. “I’m just glad we’ve got a good group of players; players who care about the team and playing as a team,” Merry pointed out. “We’re like a family really. We care about each other and we share the same goals. It’ll be fun to see how well we reach those goals.”

Goals the Falcons would most likely have little chance to attain without Peter Merry’s imposing presence in the middle of it all.



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