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February 12, 2013

In The Paint: Looking ahead to postseason basketball

(Continued)

The Chieftains probably aren’t going to win any games played above 70 points; their goal is to play hard defense and win low-scoring affairs. They’ve been successful doing that because of their low-post presence with 6-foot-6 Zach Turcotte and 6-4 Alberto Arenaza. Forward Kevin Martin is also a good player off the bench, and guards Chris Schleer, Tighe VanLenten and Jalen Aho have had good seasons.

DIVISION 3

The general feeling since very early in the season is that this is Danvers’ section to lose. The Falcons have destroyed almost everyone on their schedule and should be getting stronger now.

Senior guard Nick McKenna returned to the lineup after sitting out a few weeks with mononucleosis. By the time the postseason begins, McKenna should be back to running full-speed. In his absence the Falcons got increased scoring from sophomore guard Vinny Clifford. Junior Kieran Beck also played well when he moved into a starting role.

Danvers’ bench is more battle-tested now, which could mean trouble for postseason opponents because the Falcons’ starting five — McKenna, Clifford, Nick Bates, Danny Connors and Eric Martin — have been excellent all year.

The Falcons still face a big test this weekend in the Comcast Tournament at Babson College in Wellesley. They open with Brighton Sunday (6 p.m.), then play either B.C. High or Newton North.

Danvers already has an impressive resume with its wins this season and a state championship banner hanging in its gym from last year, but the Falcons will not breeze through this bracket. North Reading is undefeated and Whittier and Arlington Catholic are two other strong teams — not to mention Saugus.

Then, of course, there is Wayland, the team that nearly ended Danvers’ season a year ago. The Falcons needed a near miracle to win that contest, which they did, 70-67 in overtime. Guard Jaleel Bell is electrifying and he torched the Falcons for 36 points in last season’s meeting at Lawrence High School.

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