By Nick Curcuru
---- — With the 2012-2013 school year coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on some of the tremendous action we saw on the high school sports fields from September through June.
It’s always difficult to narrow a favorite moment of the school year down to just one as there are always many worthy candidates. But this year, there was one moment, one game in fact, that not only left me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, but was the most important game of the season between a pair of evenly matched rivals that showed me something I’ve never seen before.
That game of course was the Valentine’s Day meeting between Gloucester and Danvers girls basketball at the Benjamin A. Smith Fieldhouse.
Before the Fisherman and Falcons even stepped on the floor that night there was a lot of anticipation. It was senior night for the Gloucester girls, on top of that the team, which came into the game with a record of 8-10, needed a win to keep its state tournament hopes alive. Combine that with the fact that Danvers is Gloucester’s biggest rival and beat the Fishermen in a very closely contested game earlier in the season and this game had the makings of something special. Needless to say it did not disappoint.
During the February contest, the Fisherman and Falcons showed off what they do best, play defense. There wasn’t an open look to go around for either squad as each possession was played like it was the last possession of the game.
The rivals entered the fourth quarter fittingly tied at 27-27, that’s when the game took a turn and gave me something I have never seen before. Through each physical possession, each loose ball, each battle for a rebound, the two teams went to overtime still tied at 27 a piece. That’s right the fourth quarter was a scoreless quarter.
Sure a bunch of shots didn’t fall in the frame for the two state tournament bound teams, as they combined to miss all 25 shots taken from the field and each missed a pair of free throws, but the quarter was ruled by great defense. No look was open, every shot was contested and as a result baskets were more than tough to come by.
Predictably, both teams were due to catch a bounce near the rim in the overtime and that’s just what happened.
A pair of free throws from senior captain Sophie Black (game high 20 points) ended a 9:30 scoreless draught. Over the next three possession Black delivered another basket, Julianna Costanzo drained a three pointer and Marlee Melvin scored a basket and just like that Gloucester was up nine points at 36-27.
But then it was Danvers’ turn to finally drain a few shots and they did just that roaring back with seven straight points cutting the Gloucester lead to 36-34 with just 15 seconds to play.
Black, however, would deliver a pair of clutch free throws in the waning seconds making a Danvers three pointer at the buzzer at moot point as Gloucester won 38-37.
With its backs against the wall, Gloucester played some of its best basketball of the year putting it all together in an epic game against its biggest rival.
Gloucester would get into the Division 2 North State tournament with a win over Manchester Essex in its next game, where it would fall to Danvers in a rubber match during the Division 2 North First Round.
The game on senior night, however, was easily the most memorable game of the season and showed off the heart and guts Gloucester had to earn a trip to the postseason.