Playing more like a title contender on the boards and defensively, and despite horrendous shooting from the field and the foul line, the undefeated Danvers High girls made it six in a row Friday night toying with winless host Salem, 48-29, in Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse.
Notching the second 6-0 start in his 11 years at the helm, Coach Pat Veilleux saw his bench provide a boost as well, thanks to the play of Sarah McCarriston (9 points), Lydia Runnals, Elena Clifford and Cheyenne Messenger, who among them scored 20points. The freshman Messenger also showed some stuff on defense with several rebounds and three blocks.
The Falcons led from the 10-second mark when Julia McNulty hit a three-pointer from the right baseline and the small, less experienced Salem Witches never caught up.
At one end the Falcons utilized an effective zone defense, but at the other end missed a bundle of close-in shots, layups, put-backs and foul shots (5-for-20). Nonetheless, there was enough to make Veilleux happy so that he should have at least a smidgen of confidence heading into next week’s games hosting Winthrop Tuesday and visiting Saugus Friday.
Nine players scored for Danvers, eight in the first half alone when the winners led (13-6 after one quarter, 28-19 at intermission).
McCarriston led the way with nine points, followed by Tuesday’s hero Lily Montanari’s eight, six each from McNulty, Clifford, Messenger and Sarah Unczur, four apiece from Siobhan Moriarty and Nicole White, three from Runnals. White also added nine rebounds from her guard slot.
“Nice to see lots of girls score, but our defense really made a difference, holding Salem to two points in the fourth quarter,” said Veilleux. “We played smart both ends of the floor and dominated the offensive boards (28 offensive rebounds). Just hope to can break out of this shooting slump by Tuesday.”
If Veilleux can increase his rotation to eight or nine players, as was the case at Salem, there’s no reason the Falcons can;’t compete (and beat) anyone they play. The key, as was also the case Tuesday in their last-second win over another winless team, Beverly, is making more of their makeable shots, both on the floor and at the line.
But for the moment, who’s complaining about 6-0? The Falcons have a large group of players who can contribute and hopefully extend the win streak to eight next week. But for the moment they can enjoy want they’re doing.