(Boston) Until Izak Browne’s 3-point attempt from just inside half court went wide left, the outcome of the Danvers/Martha’s Vineyard game was in doubt.
But the game-tying attempt missed and Danvers had a 50-47 D3 state semi-finals win at the TD Garden on Tuesday night.
The exciting victory earned the Falcons (23-2) another trip to Worcester for a chance for consecutive state Division 3 titles. Last year Danvers defeated St. Joe’s of Pittsfield in the championship match.
Game time on Saturday is 12:30PM at the DCU Center and the opponent will be Smith Academy of Hatfield (25 miles north of Springfield).
The state semi-finals put two very good teams together. Danvers had the big-game experience but MV (18-6) had terrific athletes and could make 3’s.
There were fourteen lead changes and two ties. That combination provided more than enough opportunities for fans from both schools to either cheer and groan.
Ultimately Danvers big-game experience made the difference…….but barely.
The Vineyard tied the score (41-41) on a three by Jack Roberts (12 points) with 3 ½ minutes left in the game. Less than a minute later Jack connected on a short baseline floater and MV had a two-point lead (43-41) with 2:42 to go.
Down but not out, the Falcons were able to make good things happen on defense as they trapped dribblers and jumped passing lanes. Three straight MV frontcourt turnovers resulted and Danvers was able to run six straight points to get up, 47-43, with forty seconds left.
The Falcons points came on two free throws each by Nick Bates and Danny Connors. The other score was an Eric Martin basket assisted by Nick McKenna.
Danvers now in control? No.
After a Navardo Anderson miss, Nick McKenna made one of two free throws (48-43) with twenty-seven seconds left. Jack Roberts followed with two made free throws (48-45) while Eric Martin missed both of his with 11.8 seconds left.
Brandon Watkins went the length of the court (in a hurry) to reduce the Danvers margin to one (48-47) with 5.8 seconds to go. Nick McKenna then received the inbounds pass, was immediately fouled, and sank two huge free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining.
Izak Browne (17 points) had a pretty good look at a last-second, game-tying shot but he didn’t come close to hitting it.
Both teams will surely look back at this game and think of how much better they could have played. Danvers missed eleven free throws in twenty-three tries including six in the final quarter. Martha’s Vineyard did not take good care of the ball. The team from the Eastern Athletic Conference had seventeen turnovers including six in the final quarter and three after they had a 2-point lead (43-41) in the late stages of the game. MV also missed seven of eleven free throw attempts.
In a game with lead changes, missed free throws, and plenty at stake, the pressure on both teams was incredible.
Nick Bates (12 points), Nick McKenna (11 points), and Danny Connors (10 points) led the Falcons in scoring.
Izak Browne (17 points) and Jack Roberts (12 points) reached double figures for Martha’s Vineyard.
MV connected seven times from long range while Danvers had four 3-pointers.
Jake Cawlina (hero in the win over Wayland) hit a three in the second quarter.
Danvers had only six turnovers in the game. Three of them were in the tension-filled final quarter.
The state semi-finals was the furthest Martha’s Vineyard had ever been. They last played in the Garden in 1977.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)