DANVERS — The Danvers boys basketball team — playing without 6-foot-7 starting center Peter Merry for the third straight game — took Lynn English, one of the top Division 1 teams in the state, down to the wire last night.
Three years ago, that type of effort would have been filed away as a moral victory, but the taste of last night’s 71-66 loss to the Bulldogs was nothing but bitter for the Falcons.
“I’m actually kind of happy about it. At Danvers I think we’ve turned the corner where I don’t think we have moral (victories),” Danvers (10-2) coach John Walsh said. “The kids are devastated. They played as hard as they could, but they look at it like they scored more points than we did and they beat us. And it’s not a good feeling.”
Sticking to a short rotation even with Merry sitting on the bench in street clothes, Danvers seemed to wear down due to Lynn English’s pressure. The Bulldogs play tight man-to-man all over the court, usually doubling the ball in the backcourt.
At times, the Falcons struggled to take care of the basketball, but built a first-half lead due to their own air-tight defense.
Lynn English senior guard Fred Hogan came into the game needing 16 points to reach 1,000 for his career, but Danvers freshman Devonn Allen made life miserable for him early. Hogan was shut out in the first quarter and didn’t register his first point until dropping a runner with 24 seconds left in the half.
The Falcons also shut down Hogan’s backcourt running mate in the first half, holding point guard Erick Rosario scoreless.
Danvers’ offense may not have been flawless, but the Falcons were executing well enough to build a 30-14 lead with less than two minutes to go before intermission. They led 33-22 at the break.