By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER — Gloucester head girls basketball coach Brandon Lewis gathered his team together in the fourth quarter against Danvers Thursday at the Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse and told them that they would not be defined as a team by the way they played when things were going good, but by the way they played when things weren’t going there way.
With time ticking down in the fourth and Gloucester’s season up in the air, it could not catch a break on the offensive end as it did not score a single point in the fourth quarter. But when the chips were down, Gloucester showed just what it’s made of as a team fighting back on the defensive end instead of letting its offensive woes get the best of them.
Although they didn’t score a single point during a tie game in the fourth quarter, the Fishermen made sure Danvers didn’t get on the scoreboard either by not giving up a basket en route to a scoreless frame. While Gloucester worked the ball around well and got some good looks, it just couldn’t get any shots to fall.
While Danvers scraped and clawed to contest every shot and grab every rebound possible on the defensive end, Gloucester did the same on its defensive end of the floor. Every Danvers shot was contested by a Fishermen defender, every loose ball saw both teams diving on the floor for possession. Gloucester fought on every defensive possession like a team that was playing for its season.
With neither team scoring a point in a fourth quarter that saw teams combine to shoot 0-25 from the field, Gloucester and Danvers went to overtime, and it was Gloucester that was just a little more clutch coming away with a 38-37 win.
More importantly, the win on Sr. night moves Gloucester to 9-10 on the year and a win tonight against Manchester Essex (6:30 p.m., Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse) will put it in the state tournament.
“That was an example of the girls wanting it more than anybody else, and that means the world to me,” Lewis said. “It was their senior night, they knew the season was on the line and they were tired. Somebody had to walk out of here with a win and you could see how badly they wanted it. I had a ton of confidence that the seniors would get the job done in the clutch and they did.”
Entering the extra session knotted at 27, Gloucester found its offensive stride. Two Sophie Black free throws with 2:30 to play put Gloucester up for good at 29-27 and ended a 9:30 scoring draught from both teams. A Black basket, a Julianna Costanzo three pointer and a Marlee Melvin layup gave Gloucester it’s biggest lead of the game at 36-27 with a minute to play, but Danvers would not go away quietly.
A Kasey Sherry three pointer cut the lead to 36-30 and Danvers converted two more buckets off of Gloucester turnovers to cut the lead to 36-34 with under 15 seconds to play.
Gloucester, most notably Black, however, proved to be too clutch as the senior captain knocked down a pair of free throws with 6.2 seconds to play to ice the win and render a Sherry three pointer at the buzzer useless.
“Those were two clutch free throws from a clutch player,” Lewis said. “That’s Sophie’s game, she’s defined by her play in the big situations.”
Gloucester came out firing on all cylinders early working Black inside for a 12-6 lead after one. Danvers came storming back to dominate the second the same way Gloucester did the first and took a 19-17 lead into the break.
The teams essentially traded baskets in the third quarter with Gloucester holding a slight edge in the frame to go to the fourth quarter tied at 27.
Black led all scorers with 20 points including six in the decisive overtime period, Costanzo chipped in 10 points while Sherry led the way for Danvers with 11 points on three three-pointers.
While Thursday night was senior night, Gloucester has one more game on the Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse floor when Manchester Essex pays a visit. Lewis and company once again have everything on the line as a win propels the team into the Division 2 North State tournament and a loss sends them packing.
Gloucester has gotten used to playing with its back against the wall as its record stood at 6-10 just last week and the tournament seemed like a huge longshot. Fast forward to today and Gloucester is just a win away.
“We have to go out and beat Manchester Essex,” Lewis said. “We know what needs to be down, we know how we need to play. We need to play the way we are capable of playing.”
Gloucester 38 Danvers 37 (OT)
at Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse, Gloucester
D: Kasey Sherry 4-0-11, Emily McNulty 2-4-8, Devan Walsh 3-1-7, Ashley Arnoldy 1-3-5, Delaney Zecha 2-0-4, Allison Walsh 1-0-2.
G: Sophie Black 7-6-20, Julianna Costanzo 3-2-10, Katie Ciaramitaro 2-0-4, Marlee Melvin 1-0-2, Sam Oliver 1-0-2.
3-Pointers: D, Sherry 3; G, Costanzo 2
Halftime: 19-17 Danvers
Records: D, 11-9; G, 9-10