Danvers Boys Cagers Stave Off Upset-Minded Beverly, 51-47; Visit Unbeaten Salem Friday

After an eight-day layoff following a gut-wrenching 61-60 loss to Malden Catholic, the Danvers High boys cagers returned to action Tuesday night hosting Beverly before a sizable crowd in the DHS field house.

The Falcons survived, but barely, with a lackluster 51-47 victory, hardly the morale booster coach John Walsh was looking for with unbeaten Salem on the horizon Friday night in Salem. Junior standout Devonn Allen had one of his rockiest outings, but like the gamer he is, he overcame plenty of missteps to score the Falcons’ last four points, the first on a nifty drive-scoop in the lane for a 49-45 lead with two minutes to go, then with two super clutch foul shots with 3.6 seconds left. In the process he led the defending Northeastern Conference champs with 15, but overall he had a sub-par shooting night and committed six turnovers, but none occurred during Beverly’s stunning second half comeback.

The Falcons appeared locked in for victory after a 14-2 surge at the end of the first half gave them a 27-14 halftime lead. Things looked even better at 31-15 2:20 into the third quarter. But Beverly, now 4-2, a cold-shooting team for most of the night, improved toward the end of the third quarter, drawing within 36-29, then drew within two on four separate occasions in the final stanza, at 43-41, 45-43, 47-45 and 49-47, keyed by the shooting of guard Sam Traicoff (20, 16 in the second half.

The Panthers’s best chance to tie or win the game came in the closing half minute when they missed successive medium range jumpers by Traicoff and Kyle Coughlin, but both hit the back of the rim and Allen clinched the decision with a few seconds left.

Danvers, for the second straight home game, struggled to put the visiting team away, Lynn Classical before this and Beverly Tuesday. If Beverly had made any kind of fair share of their outside shots, it would have stolen this one.

But Danvers’s stifling man-to-man defense paid off once again and probably proved to be the difference, even though the Falcons yielded 33 points the second half.

Bottom line? The Falcons play like this Friday night at Salem and the Witches will have the meeting clinched by intermission. Danvers must take care of the ball better (13 turnovers in this one to Beverly’s 12), shoot much much better (3-for-16 in threes) and box out/rebound considerably better.

After Allen’s 15, Mike Nestor, playing another terrific two-way game, added 12 points, with Rashad Francois scoring 10, Tre Crittendon nine and Kieran Moriarty six, hitting two mid-range jumpers that should boost his perimeter shooting confidence.

At 5-2, the Falcons look respectable in the wins-losses department, but they realize they have a ton of work to do in preparation for Salem.




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