Danvers Boys Cagers Bounce Back With A Vengeance, Pulverize Peabody, 77-36

After suffering what could have been a devastating setback at Lynn English last Friday, 54-52, and then seeing themselves posted seventh in the Boston Globe preview ratings earlier in the day, who knew how the Danvers High basketball boys would respond in their home opener Tuesday night.

How in fact did the defending Div. 2 state champs and four-time defending Northeastern Conference champs respond? Just as you would expect from a team that has won three state titles the last four years: like champions.

Powered by a 19-0, five-minute and 30-minute stretch of the third quarter, the Falcons bounced back in magnificent fashion, turning a 34-22 halftime lead into a 61-37 cushion after three quarters. End of game.

Keyed by the seven-three-point marksmanship of senior off guard Tre (what a fitting first name for the team’s “bomber of the night”) Crittendon (23 points total) and the overall steady play of junior point Devonn Allen (14 points), the Falcons (2-1) manhandled a respected Peabody squad (1-2) that had lost to Lynn English by one point and beaten Lynn Classical by one.

“We had to come out strong after what happened at Lynn the other night,” Crittendon said after posting his career high in points. “We had to restore our confidence as a team and as individuals and I thought we did that the first half. There was no doubt after we controlled the third quarter. Our offense clicked, our defense played tough. For all the long shots we missed tonight we made a bunch at the right time so they had a big impact on the game.”

“We had no choice but to come out strong and establish our game at both ends as early as possible,” offered Allen, who electrified the crowd in the first minute when he stole the ball off a Peabody dribble, fell to the floor trying to maintain possession against the Tanner rival, then sprung to his feet and beat his opponent to the basket for a layup and the game’s first two points. ”

With graduated teammate Devan Harris, the two-time all-scholastic in attendance while home for Christmas from his early freshman hoop season at Fitchburg State, the Falcons recovered impressively after seeing its 28-game win streak snapped at English.

Peabody sat in a zone defense all night, dared the Falcons to fire away from three-point land, and the home team obliged. They were only 13-for-31 overall from beyond the circle (Crittendon 7-for-15), but the five they made in the first five minutes of the third session settled the game.

“It meant a lot to us to win tonight, our first game at home,” said Rashad “Rudy” Francois (15 points). “We made the right passes, took good open shots, played a good Danvers defensive game. It feels great after what happened at English.”

Mike Nestor, who is going to be a major offensive force this season to go along with his “shut down” defense, added 10. The Big Four scorers accounted for 62 points.

Kieran Moriarty played his usual rugged, two-way game inside.

“If we shoot well from outside we’ll always be tough to beat,” coach John Walsh, now 107-20 in five-plus seasons at the helm, said. “We don’t want to live and die with the three, but when we make some early it opens up the other team’s defense and we can drive to the basket more. And when Tre shoots well, we can really be in business.”

After three games, except for a couple lousy breaks and a couple lousy late calls at English, the Falcons would be 3-0. Two and one isn’t bad, though, with Lynn Classical coming to the field house Wednesday night. Make no mistake. The Falcons got their wings back for this victory. They expect to fly high again Wednesday night before they break for a few days for Christmas.




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