By Conor Walsh
---- — DANVERS — The Danvers and Gloucester girls basketball teams don’t hide the strategy they share.
Each team depends on its defense, hoping to grind out possessions and translate turnovers into points. Not the prettiest game you’ll ever see. So when the two teams met at Danvers High School last night, it came as no surprise that the game was far from aesthetically pleasing.
That didn’t much matter to Danvers coach Pat Veilleux, though, when his Falcons walked off the court with a 40-33 win in a game devoid of offensive rhythm and defined by 48 combined turnovers. It may have been ugly ... but at the end of the day, no win is ugly.
“We know both of our teams can play a whole lot better than that, but I don’t care whether you win ugly,” Veilleux said. “It doesn’t matter to me. We needed that win so bad. We were really making progress in the last three games, really improving, and we took a huge step back tonight. But any time you can get a ‘W’ when you play like this, we’ve got to be happy.”
Danvers struggled to get anything going on the offensive end throughout the first half, as Gloucester’s defense stole the show. Captains Katie Ciaramitaro and Sophie Black were dominant on the defensive end, as Ciaramitaro shut down Danvers star Kasey Sherry and Black was there to fill passing lanes in the paint. The Fishermen (3-4) forced the Falcons into 16 first-half turnovers.
Things weren’t much better on the other end, though, as Gloucester simply couldn’t get any shots to fall and took a slim 23-22 lead into halftime despite the dominant defensive effort.
“We missed a lot of what I think are shots that should have gone in,” Gloucester coach Brandon Lewis said. “Missed a lot of layups. It’s a tough loss. I feel like we should have won this one.”
The game was lost for Lewis and the Fishermen in the third quarter. Coming out of halftime, Veilleux turned to what he termed his team’s “bread-and-butter” and started trapping Gloucester at halfcourt as the Fishermen brought the ball up.
Gloucester had no answer for the Falcons’ trap, which was run to near perfection, and Danvers (4-3) held the Fishermen to just two third-quarter points.
The Fishermen were never able to rebound from that, and as the pace quickened Sherry found herself open more and more. Eight of her 13 points came in the second half, including two 3-pointers that crippled any comeback hopes Gloucester may have had.
“I’m a coach that believes that if you win the third quarter, you’re going to win the game,” Lewis said. “And we did not play a good third quarter. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing, but you can’t take anything away from Danvers. They played a good game ... things just didn’t go the way we hoped they were going to.”
Danvers center Emily McNulty kept the Falcons in the game in the first half, with 11 of her 13 points coming before intermission. Black chipped in 11 points and five rebounds for the Fishermen.
With the win, Danvers gets back on the right side of the .500 mark after consecutive conference losses to Swampscott and Winthrop.
“Even though we lost to Swampscott and we lost to Winthrop, we were really improving,” Veilleux said. “A win’s a win, I’m not picky. You just want your team to come out and execute a little bit more, but I’ll take a win any time.”