You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

division 3 state championship

Danvers boys top Smith to win Division 3

Danvers guard Nick McKenna took flight to split the Smith defense, and he was fouled by Seaver Rickert (right) en route to his landing spot.

robert e. klein/for the globe

Danvers guard Nick McKenna took flight to split the Smith defense, and he was fouled by Seaver Rickert (right) en route to his landing spot.

WORCESTER — Sophomore Vinny Clifford did not hang his head after a scoreless first half.

Instead, he collected himself and shot a perfect 4 for 4 with three 3-pointers in the second half to shatter Smith Academy’s triangle-and-two zone.

Continue reading below

On the wings of Clifford’s 11 points and Danvers’s timely offensive production, the Falcons long journey toward back-to-back state titles came to fruition with a 66-50 win to capture the MIAA Division 3 state championship at the DCU Center Saturday.

“We just had to be patient and get the ball to Vinny, because that was the person they were going to leave open,” Danvers coach John Walsh said. “Vinny’s made many threes this year, so we just had to have trust in him. At that time, we were able to hold up.”

Danvers (24-2) led Smith (22-4), 41-34, entering the fourth quarter and the teams traded free throws.

Clifford hit Danvers’s next three shots — one just inside the arc, then back-to-back 3-pointers. Smith’s Seaver Rickert and David Longstreeth mixed in a free throw each, but Clifford’s hot hand gave his team a 50-37 advantage with 5:56 remaining.

“I just told myself to keep shooting,” said Clifford, who was 0 for 5 in the first half. “Everybody has a bad game shooting, but you just have to focus on what you’ve been doing all year and just keep shooting.”

Smith got within 10 in the final minutes with a 3-pointer from Longstreeth and a bucket from William Halloran, which made it 58-48.

But guard Eric Martin hit a pair of free throws and Nick McKenna scored 4 points, stretching the lead to 64-48 as Danvers closed in on the victory.

Senior Nick Bates (12 points, 13 rebounds) scored just before the half to give Danvers a 24-19 edge, but Smith suddenly captured the game’s momentum.

“We were able to execute offensively and were starting to wear them down a bit,” Smith coach Matthew Zerneri said. “They hit some big shots in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.

“But our kids made them work for everything. We felt like we were fighting from behind the whole game, but they never quit and I’m proud of the boys for that.”

Danvers senior Dan Connors scored 9 points in the second half and finished with 12.

Danvers, which finished 21-4 last season, is 45-6 in the last two years.

“This is the group we started with, and you think back and seeing how long they’ve grown — I can’t even put it into words,” Walsh said. “I’m so proud of the kids. I’m just so happy for them and they’ve done everything we’ve asked.”

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.