“That’s how we play. We like to turn them over,” noted Danvers (22-2) head coach John Walsh. “We started pressing them in the second half. It really gave them problems and I didn’t really expect it to, but it was working so we stuck with it.”
It was third straight year Danvers defeated the Wildcats in the postseason, bu the first time in the North final.
This year’s Falcons, which has eight seniors, doesn’t have any one go-to guy it can overly rely on, so Saturday was a perfect example of multiple guys stepping up at different points in the game.
“Everyone plays hard. Even when the shots weren’t falling, someone stepped up,” said senior captain Eric Martin. “Everyone bought in defensively and we showed we can win different ways. It was a great team win.”
Connors was active on the glass early and hurt Wayland down low, but he picked up three fouls in the first quarter and played sparingly until fouling out early in the fourth quarter. Clifford was never able to get his shot going, and McKenna (10 first half points) couldn’t get his shot to fall much in the final two quarters. But Cawlina came off the bench and hit three big trifectas while Beck played phenomenal defense to help keep Danvers afloat.
And then there was Bates. With Connors on the bench Bates had to elevate his game, especially on the glass. He finished with 13 points, was credited with 13 rebounds, had a huge block in the second half and led the team in scoring in the third and fourth quarters.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to win a game more than that one right there,” said Bates, who had a firm grip on the Division 3 North trophy after the game. “I really just wanted to be a senior and help my team out as much as possible and get every board. Especially with Danny out, I just felt like I had to do it.”