SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

March 6, 2013

Second-half surge puts Danvers boys back in Division 3 North hoop final (With Photo Slideshow)

BYFIELD — When Whittier’s Justin Reyes banked in a halfcourt shot to end the second quarter of last night’s North Division 3 semifinals, it cut the Danvers lead into single digits. The Wildcats gained some much needed momentum and as they headed to the locker room, the noise from the Whittier fan section was deafening.

Two-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter, those same fans were dead silent.

The Falcons opened the second half with Vinny Clifford, Nick McKenna and Nick Bates all hitting three-pointers to push the lead back into double-digits as Danvers advanced to the North final with the 69-51 win.

“It was definitely a big momentum (swing) for them, but we knew the game would be decided in those first four minutes (of the second half),” explained Danvers senior captain Eric Martin. “We started making shots and everything opened up. It just really went well for us in the second half.”

Danvers will play in the finals on Saturday at Tsongas Center in Lowell. The Falcons await the winner of tonight’s other North Division 3 semifinal between Wayland and North Reading.

Danvers opened the third quarter on a 18-5 run, pushing the lead to as many as 22 points. Against the Falcons, even a 10-point deficit seems insurmountable.

“We knew we played a pretty good (first) half. If we just came out and kept playing our game, we’d be all right come second half,” said senior captain Nick McKenna.

Clifford, who was shadowed for the entire first half, was particularly deadly from long range over the final two quarters. The sophomore scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from behind the arc.

“It carried over from the last game,” said senior captain Dan Connors, referring to the Falcons’ quarterfinal win where Clifford drained five three-pointers in span of just over two minutes. “He’s just playing really well right now, and it’s helped us. He’s just a smart basketball player knowing when to shoot and when to pass.”

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