, Salem, MA

March 16, 2013

Repeat After Me: Danvers goes for back-to-back titles today

By Matt Jenkins
Staff Writer

---- — There have been flaws in the Danvers boys basketball team’s last two wins, but there are no worries.

The Falcons shot the ball consistently well through the regular season and somehow heated up in the first three tournament games, especially from three-point land, while defeating Greater Lawrence, Minuteman and Whittier.

That sizzle turned to a fizzle against Wayland in the Division 3 North final at the Tsongas Center last week and against Martha’s Vineyard in the state semifinal on Tuesday at the TD Garden.

Danvers still managed to get the job done in those games, but the Falcons hope the shooting woes are a thing of the past when they play Smith Academy of Hatfield in the Div. 3 state final today (12:30 p.m.) at the DCU Center in Worcester.

“We’ve shot the ball so well this year that you hope it kind of corrects itself,” Walsh said. “It will fall, and even if they don’t there’s nothing you can do but keep playing.”

Danvers, which has shot 23 percent from three-point land (12-for-53), should be able to work for open shots against Smith Academy, yet another opponent that prefers to play a zone defense.

Much like Martha’s Vineyard, Smith Academy (22-3) primarily plays a 2-3 zone and it likes to turn its defense into quick offense, getting out in transition as much as possible.

“They all seem to be 6-feet or 6-2 and they’re shooters,” Walsh said. “They like to get up and down the floor and they have three kids who do most of the scoring.”

Mat Sulda is a left-handed guard who will likely get a lot of attention from Danvers’ Eric Martin.

Sulda has scored 482 points this season (nearly 20 per game) and has hit 76 three-pointers.

Keith Natale and Derek McMahon are also dangerous scorers. Natale is averaging a little more than 14 points per game and McMahon is chipping in with 10 per contest.

“We’ll try to make what they want to do tough,” Walsh said. “We won’t stop them from scoring, but we don’t care if the game gets slowed down. We’ll defend the three-point line, but that’s easier said than done.”

Smith Academy also doesn’t go very deep on the bench. David Longstreeth and Seaver Rickert start for Smith Academy and Will Halloran is the first player off the bench.

Danvers will counter with its usual lineup, and the Falcons only have one wish for their seniors.

“I want them to finish with the win for themselves,” Walsh said. “With a win or not, no matter what, they’ve accomplished so much. And I know how much a win would mean to them.”

Directions to the DCU Center Take 128 South to I-90 West (the Mass. Turnpike West) to Route 495 North and get off at Exit 25B. Get off at Exit 18 and follow the signs to the DCU Center.