DHS Cagers Improve to 16-0; Now The Really Hard Part Begins Starting Tonight at Marblehead

Another routine blowout for the Danvers High boys basketball team last night — Senior Night — in the DHS field house in the form of a 75-45 rout of Gloucester. Now 16-0, the Falcons got 23 points (and 3 3-point field goals) from Devan Harris and 18 points, buoyed by five three-pointers in 10 attempts, from Vinny Clifford, while pivot Peter Merry controlled matters inside with nine rebounds and six blocks.

As the final regular season home game (the Falcons should get two home games to start the Division 2 North tournament), the senior players honored their parents in the traditional pre-game ceremony, presenting their mothers and grandmothers with bouquets of flowers.

Coach John Walsh (when will the DHS athletic authorities name the field house basketball floor the John Walsh Court?) added to the flavor of the evening by delivering an all-senior starting five of the aforementioned trio plus Andrew Dunn and Tom Gillespie.

After a nice rendition of the national anthem by sophomore Olivia Perez (they couldn’t find a senior vocalist?) and with a good-sized contingent of “Falcon Fanatics” in their customary position in the bleachers across the floor from the Danvers bench, the home team took command early, 10-2, on the strength of several Clifford and Allen three-point bombs.

It was 25-12 after one quarter, 47-23 at intermission, and time to give the regulars much-needed rest with four games coming up the next seven days, possible five games in eight days if the twice-postponed visit to non-league Rockland can be scheduled for next Thursday, the deadline before tourney seedings and pairings are announced. All these games will be toughies, starting tonight at Marblehead (7-5 in the Northeastern Conference Small, 9-7 overall, and a narrow 46-43 loser at Danvers back on January 7, a game the Headers could easily have won. Marblehead knocked off Salem in its most impressive victory to date.

Then comes the Woburn Invitational Sunday at 1:30 versus a solid Bishop Feehan squad, weather permitting, and a matchup with either Malden Catholic or Woburn Monday, based on who wins and loses Sunday.

The long-awaited matchup with NEC Large champion (again) Lynn English, postponed by snow on January 27, is scheduled for next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the English field house. English (12-1 in the NEC, 15-2 overall), suffered its first Conference defeat last night to cross-town rival Lynn Classical, 89-80, giving Danvers a leg up in the Falcons’ quest for a third straight mythical NEC overall championship. English should have no problem with Revere tonight.

Danvers will have its hands full at Marblehead, coached by Mike Giardi, who devised an effective collapsing zone defense scheme that shut down Harris (4 points), while Clifford was limited to five points. Then-starter Rashad Francois, now playing the critical sixth-man role, led the Falcons that night with 13 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute, followed by two clutch Clifford foul shots. The Falcons blew a 41-34 lead in that one and trailed, 43-41, with 45 seconds remaining.

One has to a anticipate that Walsh may press the Headers (3-5 at home, 6-2 on the road) from the start to create, if possible, an uptempo transition offensive game for the Falcons. This observer doubts that Walsh will allow the Headers to duplicate the strategy that almost led to a huge upset win in their first meeting.

As if the Falcons don’t have enough incentive already, they need these next two wins to match the 18-0 start of the 2012-13 Falcons who went on to win a second straight Division 3 state title. The win streak ended at 18 after point guard Eric Martin was injured and held out of the two non-league tourney games they played to wrap up the regular season.

Regardless, the Falcons are capable of sweeping their remaining games, but the opponents are capable of winning every one as well.

  • What’s in a name? I’ve already noted more than once the oddity that the Falcons have two Devonns/Devans on their team, sophomore starting point guard Devonn Allen and top scorer Devan Harris. I had failed to mention that Davan Walsh, a top performer on coach Pat Veilleux’s surging DHS girls varsity, makes three. Davan had 18 points in her bream’s 48-38 win last night bat Gloucester that kept Danvers’ tournament hoopoes alive. The Lady Faklcons (8-10) have won four straight and need their last two games to qualify. They host Marblehead tonight and Lynn English Friday night.
  • Great to see Danvers boys super fan Mickey Ouimette back in the stands after missing a couple games with a winter ailment.
  • Danvers’ five-year record under Walsh: 94-19. Walsh’s record the last three-plus seasons: 81-9.


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