Danvers Boys Nearly Steal One at Peabody Before Falling, 62-56

The Danvers High boys basketball team returned to the scene of possibly its most satisfying victory last year — the Peabody High Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse — where they clinched an unprecedented fifth straight Northeastern Conference divisional title, this time in its first year in the Large group.

But though they gave it a courageous effort, the new-look Falcons, under new coach Jay Giddings, could not overcome some poor shooting from the foul line and the three-point stripe and fell to the host Tanners, 62-56 Monday night.

To hear the Peabody fans and watch the Peabody players and the final horn, you’d have thought they had just won the state championship. Well, they had beaten the NEC’s version of the New England Patriots, and that’s something the Falcons will have to deal with this winter after their five-year dominance.

Despite shooting an atrocious 6-for-26 from three-point land (1-for-6 starting the fourth quarter) and 14-for-28 from the foul line; and despite losing their most versatile two-way player, Junior Tahg Coakley, to five fouls with 2:46 left and trailing by 50-44, this gritty bunch gave Peabody a huge scare in the closing seconds. They drew within 57-56 on Sean Rooney’s fifth three-pointer with 37 seconds left.

But Peabody’s Chris Canela sank two foul shots with 31.9 seconds left, the Falcons turned it over on a bad pass and Matt D’Amato finished off a fast break layup to clinch matters soon thereafter and shut the door.

With the 6-1 Coakley and 6-1 Kieran Moriarty their biggest players, the Falcons (0-2 heading into Thursday night’s game at NEC title favorite Lynn Classical, a 68-47 winner over Peabody last Friday, will have their work cut out every game trying to hold their own on the boards at both ends. They were not able to do that Monday night at Peabody and it cost them dearly.

Danvers was able to overcome early foul trouble (five personals in the first 2:01) and stayed with the home team throughout, trailing 14-8 after one, 23-21 at the half and 40-39 after three. With improver shooting the Falcons might have led at each checkpoint and not had to play catchup throughout, especially in the fourth quarter.

This will be a spunky team that can give any opponent the willies if they play a tighter matchup zone defense and block out better on the defensive boards. Moreover, they must get better foul shooting from everyone and better long-range marksmanship from Rooney (18 at Peabody, but only 5-for-15 in threes, and taking one three on a fast break) and Justin Roberto (5 points, making one three and missing 8).

Coakley (11 points) is clearly the single player that sparks the team at both ends, whether he’s penetrating or dishing off from the point guard slot on offense or disrupting the opposing team’s offense at the other end of the floor.

Junioir Ted Vaillancourt and sophomore Anthony Yebba have the potential to play major roles, as does Jon Weimar if he gets more playing time.

This is a team progressing slowly, but one worth watching every night. Hopefully better shooting and stronger defense and rebounding can keep them close against Classical.





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