The Danvers High Falcons traveled up from the North Shore on Sunday afternoon and brought with them a dose of reality for the Tewksbury High Redmen.
"This is why I wasn't too excited after beating Dracut (Friday night)," first year TMHS coach Phil Conners said after the Falcon's 6-foot-8 center George Merry scored 24 points and led Danvers to a 61-39 romp over the Redmen. "This just shows that we've still got a long way to go."
Conners' Redmen, none of whom stand more than 6-foot-2, just didn't have an answer for Merry, who scored 17 of his team's first 22 points. Merry did most of his damage in the first 10 minutes of the game, staking Danvers to a 22-7 lead just two minutes into the second quarter.
Senior guard Bobby Lombard hit back-to-back three-point shots around the five-minute mark of the second period, cutting Danvers's lead to 22-13, but that would be as close as the Redmen ever got. Merry and the Falcons stretched the lead to 42-28 after three periods and coasted home from there.
"I was worred about a letdown," Conners said. "We didn't practice yesterday. I warned them about coming out flat, but we still came out flat."
Any chance the Redmen had to get back into the game in the second half went by the boards when a rash of Tewksbury fouls put Danvers in the one-and-one bonus situation late in the third period. Danvers went to the free throw line 17 times in the last 10 minutes of play.
"We didn't play good defense," Conners said. "We think good defense is touching guys...We didn't play high performance, solid defense. We gotta get better."
Danvers improved to 3-0 with the win and Tewksbury fell to 1-2.
Senior guard Bobby Lombard led Tewksbury with nine points, sophomore forward Kevin Dick had eight and senior guard Mike Chiccarelli added seven, but Conners was disappointed that his team couldn't execute the game plan he designed to offset Danvers' height advantage.
"You gotta be able to do stuff in other areas, bring pressure and take guys away, but we didn't do it," Conners said. "Our only chance was to have our shots fall and we couldn't shoot either."
The home court loss means the Redmen will have to wait until Tuesday to try to end their three-year home losing streak. Methuen, 0-2 so far with losses to Andover and Lawrence, comes to Tewksbury on Tuesday night.