Danvers, last year’s state champ, squeezed out a win, 50-47, over the Vineyard in the MIAA Division 3 state semifinal, at the TD Bank Garden Tuesday afternoon. It was a tight struggle all the way. Neither team led by more than seven at any point in the thrilling contest.
With seven seconds left on the clock, Brandon Watkins went coast to coast to make it 48-47, but the Vineyard needed the ball and had to foul, and Danvers clinched its win at the free throw line. Izak Browne threw up a three-point attempt at the buzzer but the shot was off the mark.
In the end, the Vineyarders were done in by their inability to cash in on numerous layups and the second, even third chance shots. They also committed far too many unforced turnovers, patricularly in the second half. Danvers, also, was anything but consistent with their shooting.
“We just struggled to make easy ones in the first half,” Vineyard Coach Mike Joyce said. “I thought we had great opportunities and missed a bunch of bunnies. We rebounded well. We got second and third chances and kept missing them. We resisted the urge to shoot outside for most of the first half. We took good shots. We took a lot of layups and in the paint shots and just didn’t get them to fall and that really set the tone. Defensively, we had a great afternoon.”
After the loss, Izak Browne summed up the season and echoed much of what his coach had to say about the Vineyard’s offensive woes in the semifinal.
“Great season, we came together and came this far. We just couldn’t pull it off,” he said. “The shots weren’t falling. The easy shots we were usually hitting just weren’t going down. Then you get out to the open threes…couldn’t rebound down the stretch. It’s a rough loss.”
The score was 17-10 Danvers after the first quarter. Both teams were jittery at the start, missing easy shots. The Vineyard also had trouble on the offensive boards, missing routine putbacks, and Danvers outside shooting was on target.
The Purple stepped up their game inside and on defense before the half. Izak Browne was the second quarter story. He was responsible for two three-pointers, a huge block, and jump shot in the last three minutes of the quarter. A free throw by Liam Weston tied the game in the last seconds of the half. The game, hard charging Purple and White overcame the seven point, first quarter deficit to tie the score 24-24 at the half.
As the struggle wore on, both teams fumbled on outside shooting, and the two evenly matched squads traded leads in the third quarter. The Vineyard’s Jack Roberts found his groove in the third and hit two outside shots to narrow the gap between the two teams.
But Danvers got its nose in front 38-35 at the end of third. In the fourth, as the finish line loomed, Jack Roberts put the Vineyard ahead for the last time 43-41, but time was running out.
More than 2,000 Island fans and a like number for Danvers packed the stands to cheer on the boys. The Vineyard boys last played on the Garden parquet in a tournament game in 1973. And, the Steamship Authority added its support by running a late boat to get fans and team home. In a letter, published this morning on mvtimes.com and tomorrow in print, Coach Mike Joyce thanks fans and supporters for their efforts throughout the season.