BOSTON — The final moments of last night’s Division 3 boys basketball state semifinal at the TD Garden between Martha’s Vineyard and Danvers were filled with tension and desperation.
With a trip to the state finals in Worcester on the line, the Vineyarders rushed and forced their offense while the Falcons drew on their experience from last year.
In the most anxious instances in the game, the defending Division 3 state champions Falcons remained calm, confident and patient and pulled out the 50-47 win.
Danvers will play Western Mass. champion Smith Academy (22-3) Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester in an attempt to become the first North Shore basketball team to win back-to-back state crowns.
“We’ve been here before. We knew it was all about patience and playing your game and not diverting from that,” said Danvers senior captain Nick McKenna (11 points), who drained two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to seal the win. “If you stick to the game plan and run plays and sets — we have millions of plays — and stick to it, you know
you’re going to get good looks and open shots.”
Martha’s Vineyard head coach Michael Joyce didn’t think it was nerves, but felt his boys simply rushed shots and possessions while the Falcons (23-2) looked poised and ready for the big moment.
The Vineyard actually took a two-point lead with 2:47 to play, but shot themselves in the foot on big possessions. It had six of its 16 turnovers in the final quarter.
“You could tell (Danvers is) a team that’s very patient and makes few mistakes. You’re not going to get them to turn the ball over 10-15 times,” said Joyce. “Down the stretch in those last 2 1/2-3 minutes we got up two and had the ball. I think we just rushed it a little bit. It was more going too fast than nerves.”