GREENFORD - Salem opened its 2012-13 basketball season in style Tuesday with an 81-34 victory over South Range that saw four Quakers reach double figures.
"We have a good strong senior class," said Salem assistant coach George Spack, who along with Andy Smyczynski and Jake Zatchok are coaching by committee until head coach Rich Hart returns in a few weeks from a health issue.
"They've been through the wars, and worked hard in the offseason. So this is the year that we expected to play some pretty good basketball."
The Raiders were battling a depleted lineup, with three key players out of action with football injuries. Their short-handed squad had its work cut out for them against a Salem lineup that boasts 12 seniors.
"They were under-manned," Spack said. "We knew we were going to have more guns than they were. But to South Range's credit, they played hard like we knew they would. But when you're missing some of the key people it makes it real tough."
Without their coach, the Quakers didn't miss a beat.
"All the credit goes to Coach Hart," Smyczynski said. "He's had the pieces in place for the last three years. All we had to do was turn on the switch."
Bush, who used to attend South Range, opened the scoring with a three-pointer and collected a game-high 21 points.
The Quakers used Bush's three to springboard an 11-1 run through the first 2:45. That opening spurt saw Salem's big men, Anthony Shivers and Max Wolfgang combine for six of those points.
Wolfgang totaled 20 points and Shivers added 15.
A South Range timeout didn't help, as Salem came right back out with the offense getting a basket from Wolfgang on the Quakers' first possession. Bush followed with a dunk on a break away to push the score to 15-1 before the Raiders finally got another basket.
"We wanted to run them up and down throughout the game and see if they could keep up since they were down some guys," Spack said.
As the second quarter unfolded, the scoring slowed at the onset, but the tempo did not. The Quakers continued their full court pressure, and forced turnovers in an up-and-down style of play. Salem used an 8-3 run over a three-minute span to further the advantage.
The Quakers held a double-digit edge through much of the second quarter, but saw Bush go to the bench with his third foul with just under three minutes to play.
With Bush and fellow starter Shivers in foul trouble, Salem didn't blink taking a 15-point lead to the locker room.
"We got off to a great start and foul trouble kind of disrupted the flow we had," Spack said. "But in the third quarter we were able to re-establish ourselves."
The zone that the Raiders were throwing at Salem didn't appear to have an effect on the Quaker offense, as they were able to consistently work the ball inside while getting second and third opportunities each possession.
Salem kept things moving as the third quarter opened up, taking advantage of the first two-plus minutes of the second half and going on a 9-0 run.
The Raiders didn't get their first basket until Mason Miller knocked down a jump shot at the 3:28 mark.
That basket, and another by Tyler Beverly were the only points South Range scored in the third frame as Salem opened up a 38-point lead at 67-29 to head into the fourth.
That's when the starters were sent to the bench to conclude their evening.
"I would say I'm most pleased with the way we came out in the third quarter because they had some momentum," Spack said. "We've tried to focus getting better defensively this year and we limited them to just four points in that third quarter."
Brendan Webb also added 10 points for Salem.
South Range was led by Robby Seman with 13 points. Garrett Anderson added nine.
With its first game of the season out of the way, Salem is now staring in the face an early season Northeastern Buckeye Conference matchup against rival West Branch Friday. The game will be an early season measuring stick to see where each team stands thus far.
"I know they're going to play hard because it's Salem, and I know our guys are going to play hard because it's West Branch," Spack said. "It's one of those typical rivalry games where even though it's early in the season the records don't matter much. I'm sure the gym will be packed so it should be a great early-season atmosphere for basketball."
South Range (1-1) will travel to Jackson-Milton on Friday.