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March 18, 2013

Danvers boys capture second-straight state hoop crown (With Photo Slideshow)

WORCESTER — For a span of nearly seven minutes in the second quarter of Saturday’s Division 3 state final against Smith Academy, the Danvers High boys basketball team didn’t record a point.

Maybe a second-straight state crown wasn’t in the cards for the Falcons.

Or maybe they were saving their best offensive display for the fourth quarter.

Danvers hit the quarter-century mark in points over the final eight minutes to walk away from the DCU Center with a 66-50 win over Smith and the program’s second-straight state championship.

“I’m so proud of the kids. I can’t explain what I feel; they’re just such great kids who’ve done everything we’ve asked. They’re great competitors,” said Danvers (24-2) coach John Walsh. “It’s a bond they’ll have for the rest of their lives. I know they don’t know it now, but they’ll (always) be discussing this ... and not every team has that. That’s what makes it special.”

Smith (22-4) played a 2-3 zone in the second quarter, and Danvers couldn’t shoot the opposition out of it. When the Falcons tried to go inside to senior captain Danny Connors, Smith swarmed the big man and the Blue-and-White uncharacteristically turned the ball over again and again.

The fourth quarter was a completely different story, though, thanks to the sharpshooting of sophomore Vinny Clifford (11 points) and the outstanding free-throw shooting of senior captains Nick McKenna and Eric Martin. McKenna was 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the final quarter, while Martin hit 6 of 8, including his final four freebies.

“We weren’t attacking the zone like we should have been; we were just passing the ball around the perimeter and replacing each other. We were never getting in there and opening things up,” Martin said. “(But) everyone just steps up when we need them to. No one gets rattled.

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