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March 19, 2013

Danvers basketball notebook: Falcons more prepared than their opponents

(Continued)

Danvers dominated many of its opponents, but the team did prove its mettle through a couple tough stretches, especially when the Falcons had to play without McKenna while he was recovering from mono.

“Really, the stretch when we lost McKenna and were still able to go 7-0 or however many games he missed,” Martin said, referring to when he knew Danvers could repeat. “We knew kids would always step up. Everyone stepped up for him and to have kids step up when your top scorer is out is impressive. Then, when he came back it just made us so much better. We knew if we played well we could make a deep run.”

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Before leaving the DCU Center this year, Walsh had to face one more question.

Three-peat?

“Yeah, right,” Walsh laughed.

Danvers is graduating four starters and the Falcons will only return two of their top six. In addition, they’re moving up to Division 2.

Still, all the talk about Danvers struggling next year might be overblown.

Sophomore Vinny Clifford emerged as a dangerous shooting and scoring threat, and junior Kieran Beck was a valuable reserve. Danvers also has its fair share of underclassmen on the bench, including sophomore centers Peter Merry and Thomas Gillespie and freshmen guards Rashad Francois and Tre Crittendon. Junior guard Mark McCarthy could take over some of the ball-handling duties left behind by Martin.

“Vinny is going to be a great scorer and George’s little brother Peter is getting better every day. We’ve seen him progress through the year and get better every day,” Bates said. “Kieran is a great player and he’ll be a captain next year and be a leader. They’re going to have a good starting five — and they can make a run.”

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