State Champion Danvers High Boys Basketball Team Saluted In Style

The greatest championship journey by a boys’ basketball team in North Shore history was celebrated Monday night at Spinelli’s function facility in Lynnfield.

The Danvers High Falcons — the Fantastic, Fabulous Fenomenal Falcons — the first 27-0 squad in the region’s annals — was honored in high style by the Boys Basketball Boosters, led by President Brenda Clifford, top assistant Kim Merry and their band of loyal players’ mothers.

Serenaded as they entered the grand front door by noted trumpeter Bo Winiker and photographed throughout the evening by ace shooter Barbara Lynch, the Northeastern Conference and MIAA Division 2 kings enjoyed their most deserved accolades from many.

Among those reminding the boys of their extraordinary accomplishments this past season were this humble blogger, privileged to serve as the emcee; Massachusetts State Representative Ted Speliotis and Massachusetts State Senator Joan Lovely — ’tis rarely you attract these two devoted servants of the North Shore populace to the same event — DHS Principal Susan Ambrozavitch, Athletic Director Andrew St. Pierre, Assistant Principal Mark Strout, and, by congratulatory letter read by yours truly, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Also noted was the proclamation, initiated by member Dan Bennett presented to the team by the Board of Selectman at a recent Board meeting, as an expression of the town of Danvers’ appreciation for all the happiness and pride they have created with their astounding winning run this season and in recent seasons

Following the presentation of awards by freshman coach Peter Spiros and junior varsity coach Bob McKenna, head coach John Walsh took the podium and recounted the wonders of the season just concluded, the highlight victories of the 27 and key contributions made by the “Sensational Seven” —  Vinny Clifford, Devan Harris, Peter Merry, Mike Nestor, Devonn Allen, Rashad Francois and Tre Crittendon.

Accompanying his comments, Walsh made several award presentations. Merry, Clifford and Harris shared the MVP award. Crittendon received the Coaches’ award. Nestor was named top defensive player, Francois was tabbed top offensive player and Allen received the Best All-Around Player award.

Note that only the three MVPs graduate. Walsh has an impressive nucleus returning in Allen, a leading NEC MVP candidate after Merry (this year) and Harris (in 2014) received the award most recently, Francois, Nestor and Crittendon.

The evening, which was also accented by a delicious State Chamnpions Cake, concluded with a most entertaining season highlights video compiled and presented by Liam Callahan of Buzzer Beater Basketball.

“It was a terrific, terrific evening for all in attendance, especially appreciated by us coaches and the players,” Walsh said. “The Boosters did a wonderful job in celebrating what truly was an un believable season; one we might have hoped we could pull off, but never one you expect to accomplish. Not 27 wins without a loss. And with several narrow escapes. But the kids always had what it took to get over the top by game’s end; probably their greatest attribute.

“I cannot stress how hard the kids worked every day in season and many days leading up to the season, to give them the very best chance to have the very best season possible,” added Walsh, who in five seasons has posted a 22-2 tournament record, a 105-19 overall record whiles winning four NEC titles and three state titles the last four years; one of only four schools in the state to attain the last feat since the MIAA went to division tourney play in 1974. “And that includes the kids who were not in our regular game rotation but worked incredibly hard in practices to make the top seven that much better. We owe them a great deal as well.

“They knew they had a target on their backs every game and they responded no matter what the situation. And the fact we had five different players each have at least one game where he scored at least 21 points shows we had different players step up when the situation required it. Anyone could carry the load in any given game.”

Lastly, Walsh did another superb job preparing his team in practices and scrimmages and coaching his team come game time. He will be the first to admit the Fabulous, Fantastic, Fenomenal Falcons dodged more than one bullet during the regular season, such as the two-point Salem win and the six- and three-point wins over Marblehead.

But his brilliance as the team’s leader was never more evident than in the four final tension-packed tourney victories over Brighton (by 7, but anyone’s game with three minutes left), Arlington (by 3), Bishop Feehan (by 11 but much closer than the final score suggests) and the state title game over Marlborough (by 3; thank you, Peter Merry, for the biggest block/deflection of your high school career in the last minute).

Now it’s off to college for the three starting graduating seniors, plus senior teammates Tom Gillespie, Andrew Dunn and Stephen Medeiros. Time for the non-seniors and seniors-to-come to take over and keep this winning tradition, unprecedented on the North Shore, going.

As has been the custom during the Walsh era, the Boosters presented the sub-varsity players with special tee shirt gifts, while the varsity players received a 140-page commemorative scrapbook based on newspaper and internet stories that covered the team’s 27-0 campaign. They also received commemorative tee shirts, one long-sleeved, one short.

The blue short-sleeved tee shirts read:

On the front –  “2014-2015 Undefeated Season, 27-0 Perfect, Danvers Falcons, NEC Champs”

On the back was the 27 game won-lost record with scores and the Final line: “MIAA State Champions”

The white long-sleeved shirts read:

On the front —  2015 MIAA State Tournament Champions, Danvers Falcons, Undefeated Season, 27-0″

On the back — “Danvers Dynasty 2012-2015, Overall Record 92-9, Northeastern Conference Record 57-5, State Tournament Record 20-1, Northeastern Conference Champions 2012-2013-2014-2015, State Tournament Champions 2012-2013-2015







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