Danvers' inside-outside combo of Eric Martin (5 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists) and George Merry (22 points, 8 rebounds) down low proved too much for Wareham Monday afternoon as the Falcons (20-4) ended the Vikings (24-1) perfect season and took home the Division 3 EMass championship, 68-45, at TD Garden.
The Vikings, who trailed, 30-22, at the half, started the third on a 10-0 run, capped off by a Darien Fernandez (19 points, 9 rebounds) drive, to a take a 2-point lead with 6:30 to play in the quarter.
However, the Falcons knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers, on their way to to scoring 24 of the game’s next 28 points.
At the end of the third quarter, the Falcons had amassed a commanding 18-point lead, and were saluted with chants of “one more quarter” by Danver’s faithful fans.
“We got punched in the mouth a few times,” said Danvers coach John Walsh, “but we punched back, you know. That’s a great team, Wareham, they’re tough kids, we’re tough kids. I was happy the way we played, we didn’t back down from anybody.”
“I just felt the energy drain [after Danver’s connected on those threes],” said Wareham coach Kevin Bregoli. “Even though we played hard the rest of the way. I thought that was the difference in the game.”
The Falcons were able to cruise through the fourth, outscoring the Vikings, 14-9, as both teams pulled their seniors to standing ovations with a minute to play in the game.
With the win, Danvers advances to take on the winner of today’s game between Whitinsville Christian and St. Joseph’s for the Division 3 state title at the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday.
If the Falcons were nervous to take on the only undefeated team left in Eastern Massachusetts, it didn’t show as Merry, who stands 6-foot-7, hit four of his first five shots to help Danvers take a 21-9 lead after the first quarter.
The Falcon’s defense, which has held opponents to just 45.4 points a game this season, frustrated Fernandez and the normally high-flying Vikings. Wareham, which averages 70 points a game, finished 25 short of their usual mark on Monday.
“We knew they like to shoot the three ball,” Walsh said. “So we knew if we could limit that, that they probably couldn’t make enough two’s to get up into the 70’s where they like to play. We knew if we held this game into the 40’s-50’s range that we were going to be in good shape and give ourselves a real chance to win.”
Nick Bates (17 points, six rebounds) and Nick McKenna (12 points, five rebounds) also turned in strong performances for the Falcons.
“This is probably one of the greatest achievements of my life,” said a tired, but excited looking Merry. “Ever since freshman year, I knew we were going to be a good team, but I didn’t know we were going to be able to take it this far.”
“We’re just going to work hard all week,” Merry continued, “carry over what we’ve been doing and try to take the energy from today’s game on over to the next one.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.