BYFIELD — Danvers senior forward Nick Bates wasn’t offended by all the pregame attention paid to Whittier Tech’s Justin Reyes before the two teams played last night in a Division 3 North semifinal.
Reyes, a jumping jack forward who was creative in the paint and around the basket, earned his reputation by being a go-to player for the Wildcats this season, which led to him being named co-MVP of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference along with teammate Ryan Grant.
Bates, an athletic player in his own right, did consider the matchup to be a personal challenge.
“I feel like I can match up with a kid like that. I’m pretty athletic as well,” Bates said. “I’ll give it to him, he’s a little more athletic than me, but it was a good matchup.”
It turned out to be a good matchup, but a matchup that swung in Bates’ favor more than many people would have expected.
Bates finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Falcons to a 69-51 victory.
Reyes had a typical game for Whittier, scoring a game-high 24 points, but Bates made him work on both ends of the floor.
The offensive production Bates provided for Danvers was welcomed by the Falcons with open arms. Bates only scored a combined 16 points in the teams’ first two postseason games.
”We’ve been positive with him lately. He’s the best athlete on the team, probably on the court almost at all times,” said Danvers senior point guard Eric Martin, who piled up 11 assists. “If he’s aggressive, nobody is going to stop him. As long as he slows down and finishes, nobody is going to stop him.”
When teams are having trouble stopping Bates, especially when he’s going to the hoop, Danvers becomes much more dangerous on offense.