Devonn Allen: Super Sophomore Leads Danvers Boys Cagers Against Latin Academy Monday in Division 2 North Quarterfinal

The undefeated, top-seeded, top-ranked Danvers High boys basketball team continues its wondrously winning season (22-0) Monday night in the DHS field house (7 p.m,.), taking on 15-7 Latin Academy, a solid Boston City Central Division entry, in one of four Division 2 North quarterfinal games being played.

Falcon faithful will be hoping for big contributions from seniors Vinny Clifford, Devan Harris and Peter Merry, as well as from juniors Rashad Francois, Mike Nestor and Tre Crittendon.

But, as has become evident during the season, most prominently over the last few weeks, comprising the team’s last seven games, a sophomore looms as the most important player wearing the Blue and White.

Devonn Allen, a little used third guard on last season’s 20-3 Cinderella group, is the Falcons’ starting point guard this season, one in which the equally talented baseball player has emerged as the one critical ingredient the locals cannot afford to lose if they are to make a run at their third state title in four years.

The 6-foot Allen was growing all along this season, Coach John Walsh has pointed out. But in pressure-packed game after pressure-packed game, starting with the Falcons’ narrow 39-37 victory over Salem, Allen has proven to be as Mr. Clutch as one can be.

Whether it’s making clutch scoring drives to the basket, outmaneuvering opposing players for offensive rebounds off teammates’ missed foul shots, hitting a batch of three-pointers, bringing the ball up court against intense defensive pressure, making timely passes, defending quicker rival guards, using his cat-quick hands and feet to steal the ball or create loose balls, or out jumping players several inches taller than him for key rebounds, Allen has been extraordinary.

Sure, he’ll commit an occasional turnover, but so didn’t every top-notch point who has ever excelled at the high school, college or NBA level. That’s one aspect of Allen’s greatness as a sophomore — his ability to shake off the occasional misplay.

“I get wonderful support from my coaches and teammates,” Allen told this blogger earlier this evening. “That’s how I forget about any mistakes I make, shake ’em off, and play through it.”

No matter. Allen has improved all aspects of his game dramatically since last winter, such as shooting, penetration to the basket, quarterbacking the offense, leading the defense and his durability/stamina.

“Last summer and the start of this season I’ve done a lot of shooting on my own,” Allen said. “In the process Coach Walsh and Coach “J” (Jarhon Giddings) have helped me with my form. They’ve made a big difference.”

As for his ball-handling and overall offensive floor leadership, “I worked on that stuff last summer, too, did some two-ball dribbling drills at the Danvers Y,” Allen explained. “I know I needed to make big strides in that area. The coaches have helped a lot. They’ve encouraged me to look for the opening to the basket first before looking for the outside shot; plus, my teammates have been positive all the time.”

His exceptional defensive skills have been a marvel. “Good defense starts with conditioning and the coaches have worked us mighty hard since the first day of practice last November,” Allen said. “It’s all paid off. We don’t get as tired as other teams and it shows in the fourth quarters.”

So here comes the young Mr. Allen, prepping for another big-time game, this one against Latin Academy, a team that lost to another Div. 2 contender, Burke of Boston, by 16 points in the regular season. But Latin Academy could cause the Falcons troubles if their pressure defense rattles Allen and Company, though they’ve handled every pressure situation to date. They’ll be ready for more of the same Monday night.

A victory will put the Falcons into a Division 2 North semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Woburn High School  against the winner of Monday night’s Salem-Brighton quarterfinal  at Madison Park High in Boston, also at 7.



This entry was posted in Gary. Bookmark the permalink.