Danvers Boys Cagers Begin Workouts Monday; Open State and NEC Title Defenses December 15; State Championship Banner Raising Ceremony Set for January 5

The defending Division 2 state champion Danvers High boys basketball team has an imposing schedule to deal with in the upcoming regular season, highlighted by elevation to the Northeastern Conference Large division, playing in tournaments at Saugus (Christmas) and Holliston (mid-February) and a special banner raising ceremony on January 5.

The Falcons, after becoming one of a very few state champion teams ever to go a perfect 27-0, in the process becoming only the fourth program to win three state titles in a four year span, kick off their 20-game regular season with consecutive road games at Revere and Lynn English on Tuesday December 15 and Friday December 18, both starting at 7 p.m. That’s the official start time for all 16 games not part of the Saugus and Holliston tournaments. The pairings and start times for those four-team events have not yet been determined.

The Revere and Lynn English games will mark the start of the Falcons’ quest to capture a fifth consecutive NEC “overall” title. They also won the last four NEC “small” division crowns. This time they will be after a “Large” title for the first time.

Practice officially begins on Monday.

Game 7 will be historic for what takes place before the game as much as for what occurs during it. That will be the night, Tuesday January 5, while hosting Beverly, that the MIAA Boys Division 2 state championship banner will be raised. It is hoped that last year’s captains will be joined by players from all five DHS squads coached by John Walsh, all of whom have achieved their own milestones and played significant roles during the most successful five years attained by any varsity team, in any sport, in Danvers High and North Shore major sports history.

The ceremony will take place immediately prior to the start of the varsity contest. A short but glorious moment that will hopefully be held in front of a full fieldhouse.

The Falcons, 105-19 in Coach John Walsh’s five-year tenure of dominance (an amazing 92-9 over the last 4 years), face a daunting task to record their fifth straight 20-win season after losing their three captains of a year ago to the college ranks. Two-time Globe All-Scholastic Devan Harris and NEC MVP Peter Merry are at Fitchburg State and Vinny Clifford, the best long-range shooter in the area last year, plays for Endicott.

But they do return an outstanding group of guards and small forwards, led by junior point man Devonn Allen, in this observer’s judgment the MVP of the Falcons’s state title run from last winter, as well as super sixth man Rashad Francois and defensive whiz Mike Nestor.

Two other returnees who played important roles coming off the bench last winter figure to give the Falcons the fastest starting group this time around — guards Tre Crittendon and Tahg Coakley. One looms as the sixth man, since newcomer Isiah Clark, at 6-5, 260 pounds, a transfer from Somerville, figures to play the middle.

If Crittendon and Coakley can handle the backcourt duties, Allen may slide down to play a wing to take best advantage of a dynamic ability to score from downtown or penetration and make the pass to an open teammate if bottled up by what will certainly be an Allen-conscious opposing defense, no matter who the team.

Only time will determine who might emerge from last year’s bench or freshman-jayvee teams to earn a spot in Walsh’s rotation. One possibility is junior forward Kieran Moriarty.

The Falcons, riding an unprecedented mini-dynasty, will not be favored to defend any title this winter. But most important, the Danvers Falcons, the winningest program in Massachusetts high school basketball the last four years, is gearing up for a season in which they will be feared by all and victorious over many.









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