Cold Shooting Third Quarter Dooms Danvers High Girls Cagers; Swampscott Hands Falcons Fourth Straight Setback, 52-42

Despite being buoyed by the return to action of Siobhan Moriarty and the 24-hour recovery from a jammed shoulder of Nicole White, the Danvers High girls  suffered a disastrous shooting third quarter Tuesday night in the DHS field house and dropped its fourth straight game, 52-42, to Swampscott.

The Falcons (7-4) overcame a turnover-filled first half, settling for a 14-14 deadlock after one quarter even though the Falcons turned over the ball five times in their first seven possessions.

The Falcons held Swampscott scoreless for 3:30 of the second and took a 25-19 lead into the dressing room at halftime, keyed by Sarah Unczur’s 12 points.

But it all went downhill quickly once the second half began.The Falcons missed their first nine shots, did not score in the session until Cheyenne Nessenger put in a layup after they beat the Swampscott press, but that came after there visitors scored 11 consecutive points to open the quarter. Lydia Runnels scored on a runner right after that to draw Danvers within 33-29, but that’s all the home team could produce in what evolved into a 2-for-14 shooting quarter and a 38-29 deficit moving into the final stanza.

The fourth quarter started poorly too, the Falcons turning the ball over on their first two possessions and three times in the first two minutes, bothered all night by a nasty SHS zone press, and they never recovered nor made a run at the opponent.

Unczur continued to provide solid scoring inside with 17 points but she needs much better scoring support.

The Falcons home stand reaches Game 3 Friday at 7 against powerhouse Revere.

 

 

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Danvers High Girls Continue Skid; Fall to power Groton-Dunstable, 62-24; White Hurts Shoulder

Not much positive to report from tonight’s 62-24 Groton-Dunstable non-league rout of the host Danvers High girls basketball team, except to note that backup guards Lydia Runnals and Sarah McCarriston got some valuable playing time experience.

But there’s even a negative to that fact: starting point guard Nicole White, a vital player, jammed her shoulder late in the first quarter and did not return. It’s apparently a partial shoulder separation, which makes her availability questionable for the immediate future. That explains why the two juniors, usually backups, played most of the final three quarters.

The extant of White’s injury is not yet known, but as the team’s playmaker, if she can’t return to action tTuesday when the Falcons host Northeastern Conference foe Swampscott, the two juniors will become the starting guards since the other regular guard starter, Siobhan Moriarty, is possible, but not definite, for returning to action Tuesday after sitting out since she rolled herz ankle at Saugus 11 days ago.

Moriarty’s return would be timely, especially with White uncertain for Swampscott.

Good offensive showing for Runnels, who led Danvers (7-3) scored with 10.Freshman forward Cheyenne Messenger added seven.

 

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Danvers Girls Rally Twice, But Miss Last 7 Field Goal Attempts and Fall at Marblehead, 47-42

The Danvers High girls basketball team rallied twice from significant deficits, then had a chance to take the lead with one minute left, but shot blanks, missing their last seven shots  total and dropping a 47-42 Northeastern Conference decision Friday night in the MHS field house/Brad Sheridan Court, their second straight after seven wins to start the season.

“We had our chances but had to play catch-up too much of the game,” Danvers coach Pat Veilleux observed. “Besides, our effort, focus and concentration were inconsistent. Add to that we couldn’t get key stops  during certain sequences, we missed a lot of good looks on three-pointers (1-for-20), including the last one, plus a couple of key defensive breakdowns late in the game and you’ve got a recipe for defeat.”

The Falcons never got totally untracked and showed on several occasions they had what it takes to notch a well deserved road victory over the Magicians (now 6-5). But they could never sustain their impressive runs. Example: they held Marblehead to two poinys the last six minutes of the second quarter, outscored the home team 13-2 during that stretch and took a 20-18 edge into the locker room at halftime.

The Falcons stumbled again to open the second half, falling behind 32-25 midway through the third quarter, but ran off eight straight points to close within 34-33. It was anyone’s game in the fourth quarter. It looked like the Falcons might take control when Sarah Unczur (12 points, 9 rebounds) scored on three consecutive inside power moves for a 41-39 lead with 4:30 remaining.

But every time they seemed to have something cooking, the home team’s Lindsay Walker (21 points) seemed to score and fire the Magicians up. The one exception was the three-pointer Hannah Garth made with 5:15 left giving MHS a 39-37 advantage.

The big problem for the Falcons in crunch time was their inability to put the ball in the hoop. That explains why they scored only one point in the last 4:30. But no one could blame the two-way performances of point guard Nicole White and the aforementioned Unczur. It also didn’t help than starting guard Siobhan Moriarty was sidelined with a sore ankle that she rolled last Friday at Saugus.

White finished with 11 assists and four points. Lili Montanari added 12 points and Elena Clifford grabbed eight rebounds. Bottom line from this vantage point was the Falcons’ inability to make any outside shots and the reliance on inside buckets to keep them in the game. Foul shooting was a killer again, too. They made 3-of-9.

The ladies now begin a four-game homestand with Groton-Barnstable Monday, Swampscott Tuesday and powerhouse Revere Friday, followed by Lynn English a week from Tuesday.

The Danvers Boys also scored 42 points in a 61-42 setback to Marblehead in the DHS field house. Justin Roberto, the hottest shooting player in the NEC, was held to 16, three in the second half. They were coming off their first win at home last Friday to Saugus.

 

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Turnovers, Poor Shooting Cost Danvers High Girls Their First Loss, 54-44, At Saugus; Run Out Of Gas In Fourth Quarter Following Terrific Third Quarter Rally

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.

 

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Danvers High Girls Remain Perfect; Face Stern Test At 6-2 Saugus Friday Night

After beating its third straight winless opponent, this time a 62-22 rout of Winthrop Tuesday night in the DHS field house, the undefeated (7-0) Danvers High girls basketball team gets its biggest test of the season Friday night playing at 6-2 Saugus.

The Falcons will need to be at their best to preserve their unblemished record. They certainly have not in their last three wins over Beverly, Salem and now Winthrop, but coach Pat Veilleux is confident they can raise their game to the level necessary to return home from Saugus with victory No. 8.

One reason is the improved play from his bench, which has gotten some good playing minutes of late. A perfect example is No. 4 guard Lydia Runnels, who showed promise last Friday at Salem and looked even better against Winthrop, leading the way with nine points, nine assists and six steals. She and fellow junior Sarah McCarriston give Veilleux a solid second pairing to support backcourt starters Nicole White and Siobhan Moriarty.

Eleven Falcons scored against an undermanned, under-sized and under-experienced Winthrop crew. It was 20-0 after the first quarter. ‘Nuff said.

Yet, the Falcons will need to shoot better from the floor and the foul line Friday, as well as play a tighter zone defense, and rebound better at both ends to defeat a Saugus team that got beat by double figures by Lynn Classical Tuesday night.

Freshman center Cheyenne Nessinger hadd 11 points and seven rebounds against Winthrop, while Sarah Unczur added 10 points.

Bottom line: The Falcons find out just how good they are — or can become — Friday night (7 pm) at Saugus.

The Danvers High boys remain winless, but Justin Roberto continues to show why he is one of the highest scoring players in the region. Roberto had 29 points in a heartbreaking final-second loss to Salem last Friday and added 28 Tuesday in a 75-70 loss at Winthrop. Sean Rooney scored 24 for the Falcons, who might have pulled out the win at Winthrop with better foul shooting.

 

 

 

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Bench, Rebounding, Defense Boost Unbeaten Danvers Girls To Sixth Straight Win at Salem, 48-29

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.

 

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White-to-Montanari Buzzer-beater Keeps Danvers High Girls Perfect; Another Falcon Boys Comeback Comes Up Short

Scoring the winning basket just before the final buzzer is becoming routine for Lily Montanari. The Danvers High junior forward delivered the decisive basket in the Lady Falcons’ opening night, 52-50 road victory at Lynn English, and she did it again Tuesday night in the DHS field house, lifting her teammates to a 31-29 victory over winless Beverly and keeping her team perfect at 5-0.

With seven seconds remaining in a deadlocked game, Nicole White delivered an accurate long pass from in front of the Danvers bench to Montanari in the low post, who outreached two Beverly defenders for the ball, turned, and laid the ball in. Game time.

That gave the Lady Falcons their second straight nail-biting victory, coming 12 days after their most recent triumph, 59-55, in overtime over Lynn Classical at DHS.

“After scoring the first six points, we played sluggishly for most of the game before making some big plays down the stretch,” Danvers coach Pat Veilleux observed. “We sure looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in 12 days, but the girls hung tough, pecked away at the Beverly lead (that peaked at 14-7) and made the shots and plays in the final minutes that made the difference.”

Danvers played catch-up, after Beverly turned a 0-6 deficit into 10-6 lead midway through the second quarter, until Montanari made one of her patented low post moves to give the Lady Falcons a 28-127 edge with 5:52 remaining in the game. That came right after the home team’s lone three-pointer of the night from backup guard Sarah McCarriston. Remarkably, Danvers survived a 7:25 scoreless drought and a 10:25 span during which they did not hit a field goal, both in the first half.

Fact is both teams shot poorly throughout and committed a batch of turnovers (Danvers led in this category, 23-20), which kept Beverly from getting blown out in the first quarter and allowed Danvers to remain within striking distance  in the closing eight minutes.

Keyed by senior guard Natalie Mellinger’s three three-point bombs in the first half, the last of which was easily a 25-footer at the intermission horn, Beverly owned a 17-11 halftime lead.

“We were lucky to be that close at the half,” Veilleux admitted. “But we defended better the second half. Then again, a cold spell in the fourth almost doomed us as well.”

The Lady Falcons went exactly five minutes without a point in the fourth quarter, but Beverly was able to register only two points in that time, so that Sarah Unczur’s free throw with 52 seconds left which knitted the game at 29 was crucial, setting the stage for the White-to-Montanari heroics at the end.

Beverly missed a three-pointer after Unczur’s foul shot, Unczuer missed  the front end of a 1-and-1 with 23 seconds left, but Julia McNulty grabbed the rebound and Montanari’s game-winner (called by assistant coach Jon Levine) followed after two Veilleux timeouts.

“Beverly outplayed us, really bothered us with their man-to-man defense,” Veilleux, in his 11th year as Danvers girls coach, noted. “So we feel fortunate. Hopefully we learned from this game and will handle the man defense better next time we face it (probably Friday when the Lady Falcons play their second road game at 0-5 Salem). That was the best defense we’ve seen.”

Montanari led the Falcons with 12 points, all but two coming in the second half. White had eight steals and see assists. Melange’s nine points paced the Panthers. Freshman Tia Bernard had eight points and seven rebounds.

The Danvers High boys fell to 0-6 despite a strong effort at Beverly, but playing catchup most of the game was too  much to overcome. The Falcons came within five points in the final minutes but Beverly (4-1) made eight straight free throws when they counted most to clinch the win. Justin Roberto led Danvers with 21 points (with three threes) and Tahg Coakley added 11.

 

 

 

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Danvers High Boys Seeking First Win Tuesday at Beverly; DHS Girls Seek to Move to 5-0 at Beverly

New Danvers High boys basketball coach Jay Giddings is optimistic his first victory is coming soon, hopefully Tuesday night at Beverly (7pm tap) after a 0-5 start.

“We’re learning. We still have a way to go,” admits Giddings. “In some ways we’re still trying to transfer our practice effort into game effort. Not that our effort at either end has been all that much lacking in games, but it can be better.”

The Falcons have, in fact, made progress the last three games, despite two of those losses being routs. After a hard-fought 57-51 setback at Lynn Classical in which they came back from a 40-16 deficit and closed within two in the final minutes,  the Falcons stumbled in the Somerville High tournament, losing 77-50 to the host Highlanders and 69-29 to Franklin.

“It took us a while to find our offensive openings at Classical and figure out how to stop them with our best defensive approach,” Giddings said. “The kids showed a lot of heart that second half. Justin Roberto scored 12 of his 16th in the fourth, Sean Rooney made a few threes and Teddy Vaillancourt played a steady game.”

Then came the problems at Somerville. “We’ve been competitive because of our defense, but not in this game,” Giddings admitted. “They scored a lot of points off our breakdowns. We had thez same problems, but worse, and could hit any shots, it seemed, against Franklin. We committed way too many turnovers. We had problems running our offense. Bottom line is we’re still learning, though Kyle White, a sophomore, has made some progress.

“We need to start games like we played the second half at Classical. Best of all, the kids keep playing hard and bouncing back whenever they hit a bad spell. Their spirits remain high. Another key will be getting the ball where Tahg Coakley can attack the basket; where we can help him put his talents to best use.”

The Danvers High girls, meanwhile, put their 4-0 record on the line at home at 7 Tuesday against the Beverly girls.

 

 

 

 

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Danvers High Girls Cagers May Have What It Takes to Be NEC Title-bound; DHS Boys Almost Pull Off Miraculous Comeback at Classical

In watching my first Danvers High girls’ basketball game in a couple years Thursday night, I may be getting a tad bit carried away. But after reassessing, I come up with the same conclusion. This edition of Coach Pat Veilleux’s Lady Falcons may have exactly what it takes to capture its first Northeastern Conference title in goodness how long.

What most impressed me in their 59-55 overtime victory over Lynn Classical in the DHS Fieldhouse (when is it going to be named — at least the court, or the Danvers bench area — for John Walsh?) was their ability to to recover from a disastrous final 3:45 in regulation, during which they were outscored, 11-2 (thank goodness for Elena Clifford’s two free throws with 48 seconds left),or they would have been shut out and lost the game.

For they played the overtime like champions, outscoring Classical (2-2) by a 6-2 count, keyed by three huge defensive plays, all steals, by Nicole White (leading to the game-clinching hoop), Lily Montanari and Siobhan Moriarty, setting up baskets by White (2) and Moriarty.

All this after it appeared the Falcons had put the Paris Wilkey-led (24 points) Lynners away when Montanari’s put-back made it 51-42 with 3:45 remaining in regulation.

“I played too much strategy from that point,” Veulleux admitted after his squad improved to 4-0 for the first time in six years. “Too much clock management and that led to some sloppy ball handling against Classical’s zone press. We’ll work on that during our layoff (until January 3). They could have been reeling entering the overtime but they got down to business and played a great four-minute stretch. You’re always thinking we have to score some points after having that dry spell to end the regulation, but pleasantly it was the defense that won that game for us in the overtime.”

Plays, I might add, that championship teams make. Sarah Unczur, keyed by a phenomenal two-way third quarter with 10 points and two blocked shots, led the Falcons with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three rejections total. Montana added 16 points, 10 boards and four steals. Both are junior forwards.Clifford, sister of former DHS star Vinny Clifford (now playing for Endicott College) and Bishop Fenwick Merrimack College standout Mike Clifford. added eight points, the same as Moriarty. White scored six.

White and Moriarty make a fantastic 1-2 backcourt punch at both ends. Anyone can make the big play and the others mentioned, plus Julia McNulty (foul trouble versus Lynn) and Tina Gigli, Sarah McCarriston and Lydia Runnals give Veilleux a solid nine-player rotation.

When I walked into the field house with Anne, Danvers led 6-0 and I thought this might be a cakewalk. Wrong. At 8-0 Classical responded with eight straight of its own and the back-and-forth battle was on. But in the end, the Falcons had what it takes to remain unbeaten.

“We’re ahead of schedule, but there’s much room for improvement” Veilleux, the most quotable coach on the North Shore hoop scene, admitted before joining assistant Jon Levine and the team for a post-victory pizza before breaking for Christmas. “Anyone can make the big play. We have some solid rebounders and defenders inside, good help off the bench. We’re still learning, but there is definitely potential here. Looking forward to seeing where we go with it after the New Year.”

As we all are.

 


The Danvers High boys, under new coach Jay Giddings, staged one of the greatest comebacks in DHS boys hoop history Thursday night at Classical before falling, 57-51.

The Falcons trailed 40-16 in the third quarter, but keyed by some nifty three-point shooting from Sean Rooney (3 in a row) and a late trey and driving layup from Justin Roberto that cut the deficit to 56-51 with 28 seconds left, the visitors gave the home team one major fright.

The Falcons may be 0-3, but they have played hard in all three encounters and promise to put together a major streak of wins soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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