MINERVA - Before the season started, Salem head coach Rich Hart knew that in a league as tough as the Northeastern Buckeye Conference, victories on the road would be difficult to come by.
Even with a roster as senior-laden and experienced as the Quakers, there are always lessons to be learned.
"Winning ugly is better than the alternative," Hart said after a 63-50 win over the Minerva Lions.
"We learned a valuable lesson, and we can't walk out the court and think we're good or else we're going to get ourselves in a dog fight. We had the opportunity to put it away in the first half, but we didn't. When you miss seven or eight lay-ups and 16 free throws, those combinations make for a tight game."
The first quarter lacked much of the style that Salem has grown accustomed to this year. Salem was whistled for six fouls to Minerva's one.
"They did a nice job with what they were doing, but we certainly didn't do what we were supposed to," Hart said.
SALEM: 15 14 18 16 - 63
MINERVA: 13 12 6 19 - 50
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 9-1-22, Zack Wukotich 0-2-2, Brendan Webb 1-3-6, Zach Economous 1-2-5, Max Wolfgang 2-7-11, Anthony Shivers 8-1-17.
TEAM TOTALS: 21, 16-32, 61
MINERVA SCORING: Quade Zeedrich 1-0-2, Cody Parrish 3-0-6, Joey Gill 7-5-22, Nick Clapper 1-2-4, Evan Forest 2-0-4, Jake Stryffeler 5-2-12.
THREE POINTERS: Salem 5 (Bush 3, Webb, Economous) Minerva 3 (Gill 3).
Salem jumped out to an early lead despite the lack of rhythm. Ryan Bush connected from beyond the arc to give Salem an 8-0 lead and force Minerva head coach Pepper Locke to burn his first timeout.
Brendan Webb picked up two quick fouls and was sent to the bench with 5:20 to play in the first quarter. The Quakers remained without the services of their starting point guard until the second quarter began but benefitted from a deep bench.
Despite the foul trouble, Salem led 15-13 after one quarter.
With a basket by Cody Parrish to open the second stanza, Salem found itself in danger of trailing for the first time this year.
The Quakers answered buoyed by Max Wolfgang who led the offensive charge in the second quarter. Wolfgang netted seven of his 11 points in the frame. He also finished with nine rebounds and recorded four blocks.
Minerva got quick basket just before the half ended to cut the Quakers lead to four at 29-25.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Zach Economous and Ryan Bush opened up the second half for the Quakers, giving them a 10-point lead.
Salem also emphasized it's defense in the third and it showed on the scoreboard. Minerva managed just six points in the frame and committed multiple turnovers.
The offense also came as a result of the defense, and the Quakers managed to push their lead to 16 points with a 3-pointer from Webb with less than a minute to play.
"We cleaned up some things that's for sure, but then we reverted back to what we were doing before once the fourth came around," Hart said.
Hart emphasized patience throughout the final quarter of the game, and declared that the first two minutes of the final quarter would determine who would come out on top.
"I should've said the first three minutes," Hart said with a laugh. "The first two minutes we were okay and then the third minute we went a little brain-dead and gave them some easy buckets."
The Lions chipped away their 16-point deficit to nine with 2:15 to play, but Salem's depth and experience proved to be too much.
"We just have to keep getting better," Hart said. "We're not good enough right now, and we have to get better for next week. If we play like this we have a chance to lose at home."
Bush led the Quakers with 22 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Anthony Shivers joined Bush and Wolfgang in double figures with 17 points.
The Quakers finish up a tough opening stretch in their schedule and now look forward to six out of their next seven games at home.
"It's nice when it's over and you're 6-0," Hart said. "It also helps knowing that you have a lot of home games to finish up with."
The Quakers also won the jayvee game 52-38. Ryan Hoover led Salem with 21 points while D.J. Pullie added 13. Mike Popa and Jake Bezon each added five for the Quakers.
Salem (6-0, 3-0 NBC) will host also unbeaten Carrollton Friday at John A. Cabas Gymnasium.