Danvers High’s Fabulous Falcons Eye Historic Achievement; Prep For Bp. Feehan Rematch in TD Garden EMass Final

Flying into TD Garden Tuesday night (7:30 tap off) for their Eastern Massachusetts Division 2 title game with Bp. Feehan, Danvers High’s Fabulous Falcons have every reason to be cautiously optimistic, but not a single reason to be cocky or overconfident.

After winning a program record 25th game (without a loss) Saturday in the Division 2 North title game barnburner over Arlington, 50-47, at the Tsongas Center, the Falcons know all too well they have been most fortunate to slip past the Spy Ponders (24-2) and before them Brighton (65-58).

They played far from at peak efficiency in either of those games, yet emerged victorious. Most significantly, they are hoping that point guard Devonn Allen and shooting forward Vinny Clifford, though they played solid all-around games and Allen made the offensive play of the game to set up the game-tying and game-winning free throws with 21 seconds remaining, snap out of mild two-game offensive slumps. This observer expects both all-star-level performers to play among their best offensive games of the season on the Garden parquet.

In putting their 25-0 record on the line against Bp. Feehan, the Falcons face the Attleboro Catholic school for the second time in less than a month, following a 60-56 Danvers win on February 16 in the first round of the Comcast/Arbella Board 27 tournament at Woburn High.

The Falcons led all the way in that one, including a 580-47 margin with 1:05 remaining before Feehan hit three threes and scored on a fastbreak drive to draw within 58-56 with 12 seconds left. Tre Crittendon, who played a major role off the bench in the second half, hit two foul shots with eight seconds left to ice the game, after teammates had missed five freebies in a row in the final minute to allow Feehan to provide a scare.

Needless to state, Coach John Walsh will remind his charges that Feehan will provide a major test, especially after battling the Falcons so intensely the first time, rallying first from a 17-7 early deficit to within 24-22 at half-time, then from 48-34 back with 4:40 remaining.

Bp. Feehan (19-5) made it to the Garden as the No. 5 seed in the Section by holding off Oliver Ames, 58-54, Saturday in Brockton in the Division 2 South final. Center Frank Oftring played a major role for the winners, holding Oliver Ames big scorer Ryan Carney to 4-for-14 shooting from the field and leading a decisive Feehan presence on defense and the boards with four blocks. Meanwhile, guard David Carchedi was a key offensive contributor the second half with 11 of his 12 points

It is probably an indication of a team’s greatness when it can win the biggest games of the year against two of the strongest teams they’ve faced all season — Brighton and Arlington — even when it’s not running on all cylinders. But it is unlikely they can pull off a third such feat in succession, so here’s hoping that all of the Falcons’ key players bring their “A” games to the big city Tuesday night.

Two sidelights:

  1. The Falcons are on the verge of setting MIAA basketball history on two fronts. One, if they can beat Bp. Feehan and then win Saturday’s state championship game in Worcester, they would become the very FIRST school to win three titles in a four year span that includes moving up a division in the process, noting the Falcons won Division 3 state titles in 2012 and 2013. Secondly, by winning these last two games, they would become only the fourth school in ANY division to win three state titles in a four-year timeframe. The others have been Cambridge (Div. 1, 1979-80-81), Charlestown (Div. 2, 2000-2004, 4 straight) and Commerce of Springfield (Div. 2, 1976-77-78).
  2. Senior power forward deluxe Devan Harris, who joined the team last year as a junior after transferring from Hingham High, already has become the first Danvers player, boy or girl, to score 900 points in only two seasons. He has 907. Harris, who has carried the Falcons’ offense with 26 points in each of the last two games, is already the second leading scorer in DHS boys’ history, trailing only Ed Gieras, the first — and only boy — to reach the 1000-point milestone.
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