The two teams actually have a few common opponents this season. Danvers’ first two tournament games were against Greater Lawrence and Minuteman, both CAC teams, and Whittier defeated St. Mary’s of Lynn twice. The Falcons played, and beat, St. Mary’s in their only meeting this year.
Everything will come down to defense for Danvers.
The Falcons are at their best when their tough, physical defense leads to offense.
“We’ve been working a lot on defense and rebounding the last couple practices because that’s how we lost to Newton North and Brighton,” Danvers senior guard Nick McKenna said. “We know we need to come out defensively and rebound, just take care of those things. Offensively, we’ll worry about that second, but we gotta take care of it on the defensive end.”
McKenna and sophomore Vinny Clifford have had the hot hand for the Falcons through the first two tournament games. McKenna has led the way with a combined 45 points while Clifford has produced 43 in two games.
“I think they’re a good team and we just gotta continue to rebound, play defense and look to run like we did (in the second half against Minuteman),” said Clifford, who hit seven threes in the Falcons’ win over Minuteman.
The health of senior point guard and Northeastern Conference Small MVP Eric Martin has been improving after suffering a groin/hip injury against Brighton in the Comcast Tournament at the end of the regular season.
Nick Bates and Danny Connors will play a crucial role in controlling the boards for Danvers, while reserves Kieran Beck and Jake Cawlina add to the team’s depth.
Whittier’s strength may concern Walsh, but he knows the Falcons have done everything they can.
“I know we’re prepared,” Walsh said. “How we handle that and how we execute remains to be seen.”