By Gianna Addario
---- — DANVERS — Last minute victories are becoming a trend for the Danvers girls basketball team, but head coach Pat Veilleux doesn’t know how many more nail-biters he can handle.
The last four wins for the Falcons haven’t been pretty and in some cases have been down right maddening, but somehow they’re able to prevail down the stretch.
It was a similar case last night against previously unbeaten Marblehead as host Danvers took it down to the wire. A seven-point fourth quarter and two made free-throws by sophomore Hannah Llewellyn guided the way for the Falcons in a 35-31 victory.
“This isn’t something I want to experience for 20 games, I wont make it,” joked Veilleux. “I don’t know what to say, but it’s been our mantra all season. It’s just the way it’s been going and we haven’t been able to figure it out. I know teams are going to start coming after us and we’re not going to be able to survive doing what we’re doing.”
Shots weren’t falling for either team in the first quarter, but Marblehead (5-1) came alive in the second. Senior Emily Freedland and junior Mia Bongiorno both had two three-pointers as the Magicians outscored Danvers 14-8 in the second quarter.
“Some shots are going to fall and some aren’t,” said Marblehead head coach Wayne Hanscom. “We got some fast break points and shot the ball well early in the game, but didn’t shoot well late.”
Marblehead was limited to two field goals in the third quarter, one of which was another Freedland three-pointer. Danvers was able to tie the game, 24-24 to start the fourth after Allison Walsh hit a last second basket at the end of the third.
The Magician’s full-court press got the best of Danvers for most of the game, causing 37 turnovers. Yet somehow the Falcons found themselves right back in the contest in the final quarter.
“I have to give Marblehead’s defense all the credit in the world. (Hanscom) is a master at causing defensive confusion,” said Veilleux. “I thought Marblehead looked like the better team on the floor. They’re a fast team and we have trouble with fast teams.
“I told the girls at the end of the third that it was basically 0-0, a whole new ball game.”
The Magicians scored the first three points of the fourth, but Llewellyn tied the game once again (27-27) with five minutes to play on a made three-pointer.
“Shooters shoot,” Veilleux said of Llewellyn. “We try to free her up more, but everybody in the league isn’t going to allow her to shoot.”
Freshman Tina Gigli (four points, nine rebounds) scored the go-ahead basket for Danvers, which didn’t relinquish the lead in the final four minutes of the game. Senior co-captain Ashley Arnoldy earned a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while co-captain Emily McNulty grabbed nine rebounds and dropped in nine points.
“It’s that false sense of security and I don’t want us to fall into it,” added Veilleux. “It was up for grabs and Hannah went to the line. One thing about our team, though, is that we never give up. We hang around and hang around, and if there’s an opportunity for us to win at the end, hopefully the senior leadership takes over.”
Freedland and Bongiorno finished with nine points a piece for Marblehead, while Sara Snadecki added six.