Danvers High Boys, Leading NEC Large, Finish Conference Campaign With Four Stern Tests, Starting Tuesday At Home Versus Lynn English Riding 26-Game Home Win Streak

The four-time defending Northeastern Conference Danvers High boys basketball team, boasting a 26-game home win skein, finds itself in first place in its first season in the NEC Large Division with four NEC contests remaining, starting at home Tuesday night (7 p.m.) against Lynn English.

This rematch holds a great deal of meaning for both squads. Danvers leads the division with a 10-2 record, with Lynn English (9-3) close behind. Lynn Classicval is third at 8-5The Falcons hold their fate in their own hands since they win the division if they win out, but that will be a major task.

After hosting Lynn English, a 54-52 victor in Lynn in their first meeting, Danvers’s’ second game of the season, the Falcons play three straight road games, all toughies, even though they beat all three opponents the first time around: Peabody Friday (77-36 at Danvers), Lynn Classical next Monday (68-58 at Danvers) and Beverly (53-49 at Danvers) Thursday February 11.

“It’s a great challenge for us but there’s no reason we can’t measure up to every one of those challenges, as long as we take one game at a time and keep playing as hard as we have,” coach John Walsh said. “It will also help us if we keep improving game to game.”

The Falcons, 11-3 overall, have played solid chest-to-chest defense all season and they’ll need to maintain the energy level they’ve shown all season to continue their successful defensive results.

Equally important, the Falcons will need to continue their impressive three-point shooting of the past two games. Coincidentally, sophomore guard Justin Roberto’s three-point game has played a major impact in the Falcons’s last three wins, which have boosted their current win streak to six games.

Three three-point shot has been a vital part of the Danvers offense in every game this year because of their guard-heavy rotation. With Roberto a clear threat to opposing defenses, the Falcons now have four dangerous three-point bombers with Devonn Allen, Rashad Francois and Tre Crittendon.

Simply put, the Falcons have little or no size except for6-2 Kiernan Moriarty, and with rivals zoning the Falcons most every night, it’s often win or lose based on their three-point accuracy. Their long-range shooting went cold in the fourth quarter at Lynn English, leading to a two-point defeat after leading by 11 entering the fourth quarter. It didn’t help that Allen fouled out with four minutes remaining. The Falcons had a last-possession chance to force overtime or win in regulation but its bid fizzled.

Speaking of Allen, the junior point guard did not look his sharpest in his return to action Friday night against Revere after missing two games with a shoulder bruise, but this observer anticipates a big game from Devonn against English.

Danvers’s incentive in this one is significant, besides needing the win to protect its first place position. The Falcons also bring a 26-game home win streak into the game. Their last home loss, including post-season matchups? January 28, 2014 —   71-66 — to Lynn English. The Bulldogs would like nothing better than to shatter the streak Tuesday and boost their chances for successfully defending their NEC Large title.

The Falcons’s overall home record the last four-plus seasons under Walsh?

Do you believe ———  50 and 1?

“We seem to always get the job done at home,” says Walsh. “We obviously like our home floor and the great support we get from our fans especially at home. But we’ve got to play good every night to win, in particular against a quality team like English. We’ve got to play at our best.”

No matter what happens Tuesday, the Falcons will have another battle on their hands Friday at Peabody. They toyed with the vastly improved (8-5) Tanners when they came to Danvers, but the Tanners have been playing well of late, most recently a 72-66 overtime win over English.

After Peabody, Danvers travels to Classical Monday, another team the Falcons pretty much had their way with at home before the Rams came on too late in the fourth quarter while losing by 10. Then the last NEC date is at Beverly, 9-4 and a real strong home team. The Panthers fell at Danvers by only 53-49 and had plenty of chances to steal that one.

But it all begins Tuesday for the Falcons, the NEC kingpins the last four years and full of intentions to continue that way, at least in the Large Division.

Also keep in mid that English and Classical do not face each other the rest of the way.


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