A tremendous third quarter comeback showed plenty of heart from the undefeated Danvers High girls basketball team Friday night. But their season-long bugaboo, poor shooting and way way too many turnovers, finally proved fatal in a 54-44 setback at Saugus, their first after seven straight victories.
The Falcons finished 15-for-51 from the field and committed 26 turnovers to Saugus’s 24. Yet, with a couple breaks they could have ridden home with win No. 8. Problem is, following a spectacular third quarter rally, sparked by guard Nicole White and forward Saran Unczur, that changed a 27-16 deficit to a 31-31 tie, they went the first four minutes of the fourth quarter with zero points (0-6 shooting) and four turnovers. In the process they fell behind 42-33.
This time they could not make up the deficit, though they did draw within 41-37 with 3:20 remaining and 44-40 with 2:35 left, both times thanks to Unczur layups on beautiful weak side cuts along the baseline.
At this point they ran out of gas, scoring only two foul shots and one field goal (on an Unczur rebound) the rest of the way. It had taken an awful lot of energy to battle back on both these occasions in the second half while Coach Pat Veilleux used a seven-player rotation.
Looking at the long run, the Danvers girls saw how well they can play against a quality opponent (Saugus us 6-2) under duress, even when they;re giving the ball up too much and missing too too many easy shots.
Moreover, they learned that senior captain White and junior front court lady Unczur make this team go at both ends of the floor. Great defense up top from White caused several turnovers and sent the Falcons on fast breaks. White did not score a field goal, but here defense was superb after intermission. She settled for five points, all on foul shots, making her last four in a row while keeping Danvers’s hopes alive in the fourth quarter.
Unczur’s defending and rebounding with the big bodies inside was impressive and she shot 7-for-12 from the floor.
They trailed by 22-16 at the half after shooting 6-for-23 and turning the ball over 15 times. Stunning. Slow starts in the second, third and fourth quarters forced Danvers to play catch up for far too many minutes. They did not score for the first four minutes of the second quarter, for the first 2:40 of the third, and the first four minutes of the fourth. The ideal formula for disaster.
So not this one up to the obvious, but take away the positives of proving they can deliver spirited comebacks when the situation calls for them. After Unczur’s 15, Lily Montanari added nine, Elena Clifford had seven and freshman Cheyenne Messenger, the backup center with huge potential, scored six, one of them a three.
Next up: at Marblehead Friday at 7 before a four-game homestead kicks in.
Great news from the Danvers High Boys. They gave new coach Jay Giddings his first victory after eight losses with a 62-47 triumph in the DHS field house against Saugus, powered by the hot scoring once again of Justin Roberto (33) and by Teddy Vaillancourt’s all around spirited hustle. They host Marblehead next Friday.