SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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March 9, 2013

Danvers, Wayland ready to do battle again

In each of the last two postseasons, the Danvers High boys basketball team has made a little history by defeating Wayland.

Two years ago, the Falcons beat the Warriors by four points to become the first boys hoop team in Danvers to win more than one playoff game since at least 1955. Last year, Danvers turned a miraculous comeback against Wayland in the final two minutes of regulation into the program’s first trip to the North final.

No such history can be achieved this afternoon when Danvers plays Wayland for the Division 3 North crown at the Tsongas Center in Lowell (3:45 p.m.), but no one associated with the Falcons thinks that will affect the team’s motivation.

The second-seeded Falcons (21-2) are a senior-laden team that understands how important it is to remain focused at this stage.

Danvers senior starters Danny Connors, Nick Bates, Nick McKenna and Eric Martin each played major roles on the team that erased a double-digit deficit in the final two minutes of regulation last year against Wayland before going on to win in overtime.

“They want to finish it out; they understand that this is the last high school basketball go-around for them. It could be their last game and that weighs on them,” Danvers coach John Walsh said. “If you don’t win it’s over, and that’s enough to motivate you. I don’t think that will be a problem for us. They’re a really good team and if we did lose, it would be because they’re the better team.”

Part of Danvers’ motivation this season has been to prove they’re just as good as last year.

“For most of us, this is the last time ever playing and all of us have grown up together,” Martin said. “Last year we had George (Merry) and this year people told us we would never win without George. That fueled us to prove everyone else (on this team) was good, too.”

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