DANVERS — The Gloucester and Danvers boys basketball teams got together at Danvers High School Saturday night with first place in the Northeastern Conference Small on the line.
The matchup pitted the two-time defending conference and Division 3 state champion Falcons against a Gloucester team that has climbed the ladder over the last couple of seasons.
As it turned out, the Falcons were not ready to pass the NEC Small torch just yet, earning a hard-fought 76-63 win to remain perfect on the year at 5-0. The Fishermen picked up their first loss of the season, falling to 5-1.
Danvers rode an advantage down low to the victory as the front-court tandem of Devan Harris (game-high 29 points, 11 rebounds) and Peter Merry (15 points, 13 rebounds) controlled the game, leading the Falcons to a commanding 37-19 rebounding advantage.
“(Gloucester) is a really good team and we’re happy to come away with the win,” Danvers head coach John Walsh said. “They throw so much at you and when they get open they make you pay. I thought we had a little bit of an advantage down low because we’re bigger and we looked to exploit that. I think our next meeting in their place is going to be a war.”
The Falcons also did a good job defending the perimeter, giving Gloucester’s stand-out guard trio little room to operate, which drew praise from Fishermen head coach Bill Cahill.
“It was a tough game. I think the difference was they shot the ball better than we did,” Cahill said. “They played tough man-to-man and over played the wings. We just couldn’t find that rhythm and couldn’t get into that steady flow. Give Danvers credit, that’s a very good team, but I have to give our kids credit too for putting up a fight like that on the road in a hostile environment. There’s no shame in losing the way we did.”