Marblehead boys basketball head coach Mike Giardi and his staff called out “St. Louis.”
They had drawn a play, trailing by one with under 10 seconds remaining against Northeastern Conference rival Danvers.
Sean McCarthy barreled up the court, he saw the top two players in Danvers’ zone playing high. Max Beuvelet (14 points, 14 rebounds), the Falcons’ big man who had blocked two shots already, sat on his bench on the opposite side of the court. So McCarthy took a chance.
He rushed into the zone, beat the guards, then Danvers’ Drew Grey threw his hands in the air, tried to set his feet and hoped for the best. McCarthy and Grey barreled to the ground, the referee on the baseline jumped toward Danvers’ head coach Chris Timson’s sideline and pointed in his direction.
Grey drew the game-sealing charge, as McCarthy kicked to Sean Grady in the corner the next possession after two Danvers free throws and Marblehead missed at the buzzer to draw a 55-52 decision.
Danvers (4-14) took an early lead and withstood a McCarthy-led Marblehead (7-9) comeback charge that persisted until the final buzzer.
Timson saw his defense break down and hoped Grady’s shot wouldn’t fall.
“We went to a 1-3-1 hoping to extend on the corners and obviously they came up on it and Marblehead made the better adjustment than we did,” he said.
Marblehead led 6-4 early, then Beuvelet hauled in three offensive rebounds on his own 8-0 run. Adam Zamansky and him banged inside all game, eventually knocking each other out with fouls. The Magicians’ scoring drought lasted into the second quarter when McCarthy broke the 13-0 Danvers run with a put-back. He scored 17 points in the loss.
Grady scored in transition to extend the Magicians’ responding run to 7-0. They pulled within 26-19 before halftime, before Danvers hit a corner three before half to extend back to a double-digit lead.
“I think we bounced back nicely right out of the halftime,” McCarthy said. “I think all year we’ve had struggles coming right of the gate, coming out flat.”
Marblehead won the third quarter 19-14, with McCarthy finishing twice in the opening minute and drilling his extra free throw on the second for his own 5-0 run. Zamansky added two buckets midway through the frame for another 5-0 swing. Marblehead got within 33-31.
Danvers couldn’t stop McCarthy until late. He scored from outside and in, even in-bounding off Beuvelet’s back to set himself up for a game-tying layup. Chris Perez steadied Danvers through, as Beuvelet slowed midway through the game, he paced the Falcons’ offense with 17 points. His three early in the fourth reestablished a 46-38 lead.
“He was a big factor in our three-quarter court press,” Timson said. “His hands were up, he’s active, he’s taking the ball to the hoop. So he’s attacking and that’s what he should do. Made a couple great plays at the end.”
Danvers pressed as Marblehead did throughout the game late.
The crowd begged for a travel, but Marblehead hit two free throws, McCarthy secured a steal at mid-court to hit two more then the Magicians got a diving steal pressing in the back court. Grady hit a three on a swing to the right corner to pull within 52-51, then Danvers threw the in-bounds away.
Grey stepped into the game late. Danvers air-balled a corner three on the ensuing possession, and he stood in perfect position to grab an offensive rebound and convert one of two at the line. Next play, he drew the crucial charge on McCarthy that secured victory.
“It shouldn’t come down to that play,” said Mike Giardi, Marblehead’s head coach. “We didn’t make the opportunities when we had it, we stole the ball.
With nine seconds left, we turn it right back over with an offensive foul. We thought we did some really good things and sometimes the ball just doesn’t go your way.” The Falcons were aided by a strong shooting performance at the free throw line, going 18-for-26 at the stripe.