Danvers High Boys Cagers Play Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (Great Shooting, But 37 Turnovers) While Staving Off Lynn Classical, 68-58

In possibly the most bizarre game played by his team in five-plus seasons, coach John Walsh was more than a little befuddled after his Danvers High Falcons enjoyed their finest shooting night in his tenure, while also committing a team record 37 turnovers in a 68-58 victory over Lynn Classical Wednesday night in the DHS field house.

With two stars from the 27-0 super team of 2014-15 (Vinny Clifford and Peter Merry) looking on, the Falcons (3-1) shot like the Golden State Warriors from start to finish,¬†hitting 21 of 35 shots overall and 11 of 17 three-pointers, keyed by Rashad “Rudy” Francois’s five treys and a career-high 28 points.

The defending Division 2 state champs and four-time defending Northeastern Conference titlists got only 35 shots off because they honestly, truly, cross my heart and hope to die, registered a brain-numbing 37 turnovers, 23 in the second half and 13 in the fourth quarter. That’s how a potentially fine team only takes 35 shots. In the process, they turned a blowout victory into a struggle, allowing a 54-33 advantage after three quarters get as close as 58-49 with five minutes remaining.

An historic shooting performance throughout ended up being overshadowed by a disturbingly reckless ball-handling effort throughout.

“We shot the ball well, that’s for sure,” Walsh observed. “And we played hard. But goodness, we didn’t play smart at all the second half. Stupid fouls, stupid decisions with the basketball. We’ve got to work harder — and then show it in games — in protecting the basketball, especially against pressure. Or it’s going to be a rough season.”

The Falcons, who play Wakefield Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Saugus High School Christmas tournament, led 22-13 after one with six turnovers, hitting nine of 12 shots from the floor. They committed seven more turnovers in the second quarter, but nobody cared with a 41-25 lead, powered by 13 of 19 marksmanship and an uncanny 7-for-10 from three-point land.

They’d committed 18 turnovers but were pulling away at 50-29 midway through the third session. But the fourth quarter was a ball-handling/passing debacle, with eight turnovers the first four minutes. Classical, by giving the Falcons a scare in the fourth quarter, delivered a message loud and clear to the rest of the NEC; a message that was sent more softly after Lynn English’s 54-52 comeback victory over Danvers at Lynn last week.

Press the Falcons to death and you might beat them. You just might cause them to lose their composure. Let’s see if Wakefield applies the heat Sunday or the team the Falcons play Monday, either Marblehead or Malden Catholic (Walsh’s alma mater).

It’s going to be up to Devonn Allen (14 points), Tre Crittendon (14) and Francois to immediately improve from what they showed tonight in the ball handling department. A poorer shooting game tonight and there Falcons might have been taken down.

At halftime, I was thinking of the 10 reasons we had to project this squad as qualified to make it five NEC titles in a row.  Now, that thought is not in the discussion. Maybe down the road.

The other concern from tonight is the fact Walsh trusts using only a six-player rotation with Tahg Coakley his sixth man; a most capable sixth man. But Walsh is hopeful a reliable seventh man will emerge shortly, possibly Justin Roberto.

We’re only four games in. No more head scratching until after we see how the players respond in Saugus. They rebounded beautifully against Peabody after the Lynn English heartbreaker. Let’s see if they bounce back again, this time after a 10-point win that didn’t feel all that great. At least none of the first six got hurt.

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