By Gianna Addario
---- — DANVERS — After back-to-back losses last week, Danvers girls basketball head coach Pat Veilleux stressed to his team the importance of playing four complete quarters.
The message resonated with the Falcons as they downed visiting Salem, 43-28 in last night’s Northeastern Conference showdown.
“We had two games against Classical and Beverly that were winnable, but we just couldn’t make those plays like we had in the first five wins,” said Veilleux. “All we kept harping on was four quarters, even if we broke it down into four minutes of each quarter. I thought we did a tremendous job of doing that in this game.
“The point is we finally played, somewhat of we’re capable of playing and against a good Salem team. We took it to them right away and were able to sustain the effort.”
Senior Ashley Arnoldy (seven rebounds) netted six of her team-high 14 points in the first quarter for Falcons, who move to 6-3 on the season. While the Witches hung around early on, Danvers limited them offensively, allowing just a single free-throw in the second quarter.
Danvers outscored Salem, 16-1 in the second and took a 27-7 lead into halftime.
“We were very sloppy with turnovers in the first half,” said Salem head coach John Fortunato, whose team evens out at 3-3. “That was more the disappointing part. I don’t think the girls were spotting up confidently when they were shooting. We didn’t execute and passed the ball poorly. There were times when we didn’t maintain a good court spacing.”
Salem’s best quarter came in the third, when Brianna Rodriguez hit two three-pointers. Danvers’ zone defense stifled a lot of the Witches’ scoring chances, including holding leading scorer Jaclyn Panneton to five points.
Falcon senior Allison Walsh went down grabbing her knee during the first half. Walsh, who made her return to court this season after her second ACL tear, stayed out for the remainder of the game.
A similar incident happened in the third quarter to senior captain Emily McNulty after battling for a loose ball. Both could miss Friday’s game against Revere.
“We’re down to a couple forwards now,” Veilleux said of the injuries. “We went from being one of the tallest teams up front, to having to take a freshman off her J.V. team. Now, Lauren McKinnon has to learn to play at the varsity level.”
McKinnon dropped in two points and had a handful of rebounds in the second half. Sophomore guard Hannah Llewellyn (seven points), point guard Delaney Zecha (seven points) and Tina Gigli (five points) contributed to the scoring after McNulty and Walsh went down.
Martiza Scott finished the night with nine points, while Rachael Zipper added five for Salem, which hasn’t lost back-to-back games all season.
Salem showed its support for the Falcons during pregame warm ups by wearing Danvers Strong T-shirts, with a quote from the fallen Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer.
“That was a tremendous gesture by Salem,” said Veilleux. “The feeling here is still on the sad side about the tragedy. I think everybody in the conference has done something for us and it’s very meaningful.”