LOWELL — With Danny Connors having fouled out, the Danvers High basketball team was down to its last leg against Wayland in Saturday’s North Division 3 title game after a double-digit halftime lead was reduced to nothing with just a minute left.
But the Falcons stood tall on defense, and with a little help from Jake Cawlina off the bench clinched their second straight North championship with a 57-52 win.
Danvers (22-2) will play the South titlist Martha’s Vineyard (17-5) tomorrow at the TD Garden in Boston (4:15 p.m.) in the state semifinals.
Wayland’s Harrison Leavitt converted a layup with less than two minutes left to tie the game at 52-all after Danvers had led the entire second half. With the game still tied two possessions later, Danvers senior captain Nick Bates grabbed an offensive rebound with a minute to go, but was corralled too far under the basket to get a shot off. He wheeled around in desperation and hurled a perfect pass to Cawlina, who buried his third three-pointer of the game.
“I got the rebound but I was posted underneath the basket, so I couldn’t get up a shot,” said Bates. “So I turned around and was looking for Nick (McKenna) or Vinny (Clifford), to be honest. But I saw Jake and he was there — and I knew he could hit that shot. He’s a great shooter.”
Wayland (19-5) called time out with 56 seconds left, but when it attempted to bring the ball across the halfcourt line, the Falcons threw a trap at them and Kieran Beck was able to force the ball loose. Bates then converted a layup with 14 seconds left and Beck stole the ensuing inbounds pass to seal the victory.
Turnovers were a theme in this game. While Danvers had some bad ones (particularly in the second half) the Wildcats turned it over with far greater consistency. The Falcons held a 16-4 advantage in the category.