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Danvers too strong for Smith Academy in state Division 3 basketball title game

  • David Longstreeth of Smith, right, shoots the ball while being defended by Vincent Clifford of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    David Longstreeth of Smith, right, shoots the ball while being defended by Vincent Clifford of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy boys basketball players Mathew Sulda, from left, Derek McMahon, coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with their  trophy after losing 66-50 to Danvers at the state Division 3 championship on Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Smith Academy boys basketball players Mathew Sulda, from left, Derek McMahon, coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with their trophy after losing 66-50 to Danvers at the state Division 3 championship on Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.
    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Seaver Rickert of Smith, front, struggles to move the ball down the court under pressure from Daniel Connors of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Nicholas Bates of Danvers watches, at back.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Seaver Rickert of Smith, front, struggles to move the ball down the court under pressure from Daniel Connors of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Nicholas Bates of Danvers watches, at back.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Keith Natale of Smith, left, Daniel Connors of Danvers and David Longstreeth of Smith wait for the official's call after grappling over the ball during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Vincent Clifford of Danvers watches, at back.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Keith Natale of Smith, left, Daniel Connors of Danvers and David Longstreeth of Smith wait for the official's call after grappling over the ball during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Vincent Clifford of Danvers watches, at back.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nicholas Bates of Danvers, left, Seaver Rickert of Smith and Keith Natale, also of Smith grapple over the ball during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Nicholas Bates of Danvers, left, Seaver Rickert of Smith and Keith Natale, also of Smith grapple over the ball during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Christian Smiarowski of Smith Academy shoots the ball during halftime at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. The Smith boys basketball team wore shirts supporting Smith student Bobby Gagne of Hatfield who is battling leukemia.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Christian Smiarowski of Smith Academy shoots the ball during halftime at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. The Smith boys basketball team wore shirts supporting Smith student Bobby Gagne of Hatfield who is battling leukemia.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Seaver Rickert, left, and Keith Natale of Smith, center, fight for possession of the ball against Vincent Clifford of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Seaver Rickert, left, and Keith Natale of Smith, center, fight for possession of the ball against Vincent Clifford of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • William Halloran covers his face with a tee-shirt during the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Smith lost the game to Danvers.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    William Halloran covers his face with a tee-shirt during the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Smith lost the game to Danvers.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri watches the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri watches the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Derek McMahon, left, Keith Natale, David Longstreeth and Seaver Rickert of Smith watch the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Derek McMahon, left, Keith Natale, David Longstreeth and Seaver Rickert of Smith watch the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and players Derek McMahon, Mathew Sulda, Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert watch while the winning trophy is presented to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and players Derek McMahon, Mathew Sulda, Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert watch while the winning trophy is presented to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mathew Sulda, left, Derek McMahon, Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with a trophy after loosing to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Mathew Sulda, left, Derek McMahon, Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with a trophy after loosing to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mathew Sulda, left, Derek McMahon, Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with a trophy after loosing to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Mathew Sulda, left, Derek McMahon, Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with a trophy after loosing to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri, from left, and players Derek McMahon, Mathew Sulda, Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert watch while the winning trophy is presented to Danvers after the state Division 3 championship on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri, from left, and players Derek McMahon, Mathew Sulda, Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert watch while the winning trophy is presented to Danvers after the state Division 3 championship on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.
    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bobby Gagne of Hatfield watches the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Gagne has been battling leukemia and a large group of Smith students wore orange to support him.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Bobby Gagne of Hatfield watches the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Gagne has been battling leukemia and a large group of Smith students wore orange to support him.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bobby Gagne of Hatfield, front right, watches the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Gagne has been battling leukemia and a large group of Smith students wore orange to support him.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Bobby Gagne of Hatfield, front right, watches the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Gagne has been battling leukemia and a large group of Smith students wore orange to support him.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • David Longstreeth of Smith, right, shoots the ball while being defended by Vincent Clifford of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Smith Academy boys basketball players Mathew Sulda, from left, Derek McMahon, coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with their  trophy after losing 66-50 to Danvers at the state Division 3 championship on Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Seaver Rickert of Smith, front, struggles to move the ball down the court under pressure from Daniel Connors of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Nicholas Bates of Danvers watches, at back.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Keith Natale of Smith, left, Daniel Connors of Danvers and David Longstreeth of Smith wait for the official's call after grappling over the ball during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Vincent Clifford of Danvers watches, at back.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Nicholas Bates of Danvers, left, Seaver Rickert of Smith and Keith Natale, also of Smith grapple over the ball during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Christian Smiarowski of Smith Academy shoots the ball during halftime at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. The Smith boys basketball team wore shirts supporting Smith student Bobby Gagne of Hatfield who is battling leukemia.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Seaver Rickert, left, and Keith Natale of Smith, center, fight for possession of the ball against Vincent Clifford of Danvers during the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • William Halloran covers his face with a tee-shirt during the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Smith lost the game to Danvers.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri watches the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Derek McMahon, left, Keith Natale, David Longstreeth and Seaver Rickert of Smith watch the last minute of the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and players Derek McMahon, Mathew Sulda, Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert watch while the winning trophy is presented to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Mathew Sulda, left, Derek McMahon, Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with a trophy after loosing to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Mathew Sulda, left, Derek McMahon, Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri and Seaver Rickert of Smith pose with a trophy after loosing to Danvers at the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Smith Academy boys basketball coach Matt Zerneri, from left, and players Derek McMahon, Mathew Sulda, Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert watch while the winning trophy is presented to Danvers after the state Division 3 championship on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.<br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Bobby Gagne of Hatfield watches the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Gagne has been battling leukemia and a large group of Smith students wore orange to support him.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Bobby Gagne of Hatfield, front right, watches the State Division 3 Championship, Saturday, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Gagne has been battling leukemia and a large group of Smith students wore orange to support him.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

Bottled up for most of the game, Sulda finally found space but it quickly closed. Danvers drew a charge and the senior guard lay flat on his back for a minute.

On the next play Sulda fouled out and when he left the DCU Center floor, the realization that his career, and the season, was coming to a close sank in.

The Smith Academy Falcons stood motionless as the Danvers Falcons celebrated a 66-50 victory and collected their championship medals Saturday.

Smith Academy (22-4) was seeking its first state title in 21 years. Danvers (24-2) won its second straight.

“It’s sour but Danvers earned it,” Sulda said. “They played hard defense. Nothing else to say. They’re a tough team.”

Smith trailed 41-34 entering the fourth quarter. Throughout the postseason, the team has leaned on its defense in the final frame, but on Saturday, Danvers’ shooters, length and patience were simply too much.

“They’re big, they’re long, smart and an intelligent group,” Smith coach Matt Zerneri said. “They don’t shoot themselves in the foot. They capitalized on mistakes. There a two-time state champion for a reason.”

With Nick McKenna (20 points, three 3-pointers) being used as a decoy on the wing, Vincent Clifford (11 points) scored eight straight points behind two 3s to give Danvers a 50-37 lead with six minutes left.

The teams traded baskets and free throws until a 3-pointer by David Longstreeth (seven points) and a McKenna to Will Halloran fast break pulled Smith with 58-48 with 2:21 left.

Smith called timeout but Danvers went 6-for-6 from the foul line down the stretch to pull away.

“When we went triangle-and-two on McKenna, we thought they were playing to our favor just having him on the wings not doing anything, but come to find out (Clifford) hit some big shots,” McMahon said. “They had kids who stepped up.”

Danvers jumped out to a 22-6 lead behind five 3-pointers. Danvers broke the Smith 2-3 zone with quick passes inside and kick-outs for jumpers.

“They were knocking down shots,” Sulda said. “Every one they took felt like it was going in.”

But Smith did not go away. A 13-0 run brought the crowd and team to life.

“We just go out and play sports because it’s the same group of kids and we’re comfortable,” Seaver Rickert said. “There’s no reason to be nervous. You lose, you lose. It’s a basketball game. We went out there and gave it our all.”

McMahon fed Sulda (11 points) for a baseline drive. Following three defensive stops on one possession, Keith Natale (eight points) scored inside. Sulda then drained his first and only 3 to cut the lead to 22-13 with 2:23 left.

Halloran then scored along the baseline, and Natale and McKenna each drove for layups.

Nick Bates (12 points) scored inside to end the run and give Danvers a 24-19 lead at intermission.

“At halftime we felt pretty good considering how the first two quarters went,” Sulda said. “They made every shot they took, they made a run and got up. I thought our guys were tough, composed and patient and we cut the lead down before half.”

Longstreeth opened the third with a 3, then following a Danvers basket, Rickert (13 points) converted a three-point play to pull Smith with 26-25.

That’s as close as Smith got. Danvers went on a 10-2 run to extend the lead.

“With time, we’ll start to realize some of things we’ve done,” McMahon said. “We made history. We’re upset we lost but with time we’ll realize what we’ve done this year.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

Division 3 state championship

Danvers 66, Smith Academy 50

Smith Academy (22-4)

Smiarowski 0-0-0, McMahon 1-1-3, Rickert 5-3-13, Molloy 0-0-0, Hanson 0-0-0, Longstreeth 2-1-7, Natale 3-2-8, Sulda 5-0-11, Banas 0-0-0, Rogers 1-0-2, Halloran 3-0-6, Liebenow 0-0-0. Totals: 20-7-50

Danvers (24-2)

Martin 2-6-11, Bates 5-1-12, Clifford 4-0-11, McKenna 6-5-20, Connors 5-2-12. Totals: 22-14-66

Smith 6 13 15 16—50

Danvers 17 7 17 25—66

3-pointers: Smith Academy 3 (Longstreeth 2, Sulda 1); Danvers 8 (McKenna 3, Clifford 3, Martin 1, Bates 1)

Related

Smith Academy wears orange to back student with leukemia

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WORCESTER — Bobby Gagne was wearing orange in the front row of the student section at the DCU Center for the state basketball championship. The Smith Academy students to his left wore orange. The fans behind him wore orange. During the state Division 3 championship, the boys basketball team wore “I wear orange for Bobby” T-shirts. The Falcons have done … 0

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