By Jean DePlacido
---- — DANVERS — After cruising past Chelsea in a preliminary round playoff contest earlier in the week, the Marblehead boys basketball team knew the task would be much tougher last night against two-time defending Division 3 state champion Danvers.
The Magicians battled the entire way and got to within four points early in the third quarter, but never got any closer. The host Falcons answered with back-to-back three-pointers and pulled away for a 67-49 victory in the first round of the Division 2 North playoffs.
Matt Millett, who led Marblehead with 15 points, put in a rebound to get his team within four (34-30) in the third. But Devon Allen and Mark McCarthy hit consecutive treys to build second-seeded Danvers’ lead back to 10 points, killing any momentum the visitors may have gained.
Marblehead refused to go away and fought hard to the end, but sophomore Rashad Francois made sure the hosts would advance to the quarterfinals against North Andover Saturday night (7 p.m.) back at home. He had a game-high 22 points with six treys, four of which came in the second half.
“He’s a shooter,” Falcons (18-3) coach John Walsh said of Francois. “At times you scratch your head with some of the shots he takes, but he makes a lot of them so you have to live with that.
“Marblehead (12-10) played well; they have tough kids and Mike Giardi is a very good coach. We were expecting what they did; it didn’t come as a surprise, (but) we needed a balanced attack to beat them. Fortunately, we had a lot of people contribute.”
Devan Harris and Peter Merry both had double-doubles for DHS with 12 points and a dozen rebounds. Merry also had eight blocks.
All of Merry’s points came in the first half. He got into early foul trouble, picking up his third with just over a minute gone in the third quarter, but was still a huge factor defensively.
Mark McCarthy had eight points, seven assists, six boards and three steals for the winners while Kieran Beck also had eight points and six rebounds. McCarthy and Beck are the only seniors on the team.
“I’m proud of the seniors,” said Walsh. “Both are great leaders who worked very hard tonight to contribute in every way.”
Marblehead trailed by 11 points after the first quarter. It was a close game until the Falcons went on a 9-0 run at the end of the quarter. Merry led the way with four points, Francois had a layup after stealing the ball, and McCarthy closed it out with a trey.
It was a different story in the second quarter as the Magicians had an 18-13 scoring edge and were only down by six points at the half, 32-26. Cian Saunders started a 9-3 run with a trey, and Ryan Himes hit back to back shots. Spenser Craig had a buzzer beating layup right before halftime.
The Magicians had three players in double figures, including Craig and Saunders with 10 points each.
Danvers 67, Marblehead 49
at Danvers High
Marblehead: Himes 2-0-4; Butterfield 0-2-2; M. Millett 7-1-15; Craig 3-4-10; Tully 0-0-0; Conn 0-0-0; Saunders 3-2-10; Perez 1-2-4; W. Millett 2-0-4; Gregory 0-0-0. Totals 18-11-49.
Danvers: McCarthy 3-0-8; Allen 1-0-3; Harris 6-0-12; Merry 4-4-12; Beck 2-3-8; Nestor 0-0-0; Bornstein 0-0-0; Dunn 0-0-0; Salmonsen 0-0-0; Moriarty 0-0-0; Lynch 0-0-0; Crittendon 1-0-2; Francois 7-2-22. Totals 24-9-67.
Halftime: Danvers, 32-26.
3-pointers: M, Saunders 2; D, Francois 6, McCarthy 2, Allen, Beck.
Records: D, 18-3; M, 12-10