There were six lead changes in the first half, but the final one occurred when Harris grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and finished in the paint. The Falcons held a 27-25 lead at that point and never surrendered it, even though they didn’t make it a three-possession game until there were just three minutes left in the game.
“We had an advantage, but we knew with their four guards it was going to be hard to get to the point to get that advantage,” Danvers coach John Walsh said. “We knew if the game was played at halfcourt it wouldn’t favor us, but if we could eventually get the ball down around the 3-point line and pound it in, eventually we’d be able to take advantage.”
Harris converted a conventional three-point play to give the Falcons a five-point lead (43-38) with 6:22 to play, and he cashed in on a spin move on the right block for the game’s final field goal with 3:45 to play. That hoop pushed the Danvers lead to six (47-41), and the Falcons connected on 9 of 12 free throws down the stretch to close it out.
“In practice, the intensity is always up there. We always know there’s a target on our back and we gotta go out and grab the win,” Harris said. “We have great free throw shooters and we thrive on it. We’re always good to go in the late-game situations.”
Merry may have been less of a factor on the offensive end, but his presence was felt defensively. He blocked an altered enough shots early on to discourage the Knights from taking the ball to the hoop.
North Andover tried to attack from the perimeter, attempting shots over the Danvers defense, but field goals were hard to come by late in the game. The Knights only managed two field goals in the final 10 minutes of the game.