BOARDMAN - The Salem Quakers have endured some tough lessons this season.
Having an experienced group of 10 seniors with an ability to recall some of those lessons helped propel the Quakers to a 70-53 win over Ravenna in a Boardman Division II sectional final on Friday night.
"When they started coming back, it was kind of like, 'we've seen this before, we know how to handle it,'" senior Anthony Shivers said. "On the other hand, we've also not dealt with it the best we can, so we learn from those mistakes and hopefully we will continue to learn and continue to get better."
Shivers led Salem with 23 points and 12 rebounds, and helped the Quakers race out to an early lead. The Quakers (18-6) stifled the Ravens (13-10) with their high-intensity defense and didn't allow Ravenna to light the scoreboard for the first three minutes.
"I thought the tone that we set in the first half defensively was the key to the game," Salem coach Rich Hart said. "We had them flustered in the first half."
Salem quickly opened up a double-digit lead on the Ravens, who struggled to make shots and build confidence early.
"In tournament play you can't spot teams," Ravenna coach Phil Starks said. "These guys need confidence early in a game. That didn't happen going down 8-0. We call a timeout and finally scored our first basket, but we didn't build from that."
The Quakers entered Friday night with a gameplan and knew exactly what they wanted to do. They executed and had an answer for each question the Ravens presented to them.
"I felt prepared, the coaches were able to predict what Ravenna was going to do to us and they put in good measures to counter that," Shivers said. "It was like we had seen it over and over again and it was like routine how to handle that."
What the Quakers weren't prepared for was how to deal without their leading scorer, Ryan Bush, for much of the evening. Bush collected three quick fouls in the first half, and was forced to watch from the sidelines for much of the evening.
Without Bush, Salem's bench stepped up to the challenge.
"When Webb is scoring, and when Economous is scoring, that makes us awfully tough to defend," Hart said. "You can't just play Bush or Tony or Max, you have to play everyone. If we move the ball, it makes it tough to defend."
Webb finished the night with 12 points, while Economous netted 10 points, including a trio of three-pointers, as the Quakers closed out the first half with a 31-17 lead.
"One of the things is, we're getting better and better defensively," Hart said. "We played some good defense against Lakeview through the first quarter, but when you get a big lead like that it's tough to keep that intensity. Tonight we did."
The Ravens began to find some momentum in the third quarter, and were able to cut the deficit to single digits, but an explosive fourth quarter put away any chance of Ravenna getting any closer.
"Not having Bush for that stretch really hurt us with our biggest threat out," Shivers said. "Economous really stepped up with some big three's down the line. Max stepped up, Brendan stepped up and Mike stepped up. We're a dangerous team when we're firing on all cylinders."
Economous buried his second and third triples of the night as the fourth quarter opened as the Quakers pushed their lead to 20. Salem continued to force Ravenna into mistakes as they ran away from the Ravens.
"I think a big part of it is our conditioning," Shivers said. "We're able to play defense hard for a long time because we're conditioned. We're able to wear teams down that way, where they are getting sloppy on offense and our defense is still crisp and consistent."
Salem advances to play Ravenna Southeast on Wednesday at Boardman High School.
"They've got great guards," Hart said. "We're going to have to score on the inside and limit them outside like we tried to do with Ravenna tonight."
Economous' 10 points was his second straight game recording double figures. Economous' emergence as a scoring threat has only bolstered the Quakers lineup as tournament play has progressed.
"Zach is really starting to shoot it, and that has been a key for us," Hart said.
Economous netted 12 points against Lake View.
- Salem was also without Austin Frank, who is suffering from a sprained ankle. The Quakers are hopeful he will make a return for their matchup with Southeast on Wednesday.
"We played this game without Austin Frank," Hart said. "We get him back and we will be even stronger depth-wise," Hart said.
SALEM: 15-16-15-24 - 70
RAVENNA: 8- 9-20-16 - 53
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 5-2-12, Mike Madison 0-0-0, Zack Wukotich 3-0-6, Brandan Webb 4-3-12, Zach Economous 3-1-10, Rocco Davanzo 0-0-0, Eric Madison 0-0-0, Anthony Shivers 8-7-23. TOTALS: 26, 14-21: 70
RAVENNA SCORING: Josiah Coman 0-3-3, Warren Bradley 3-0-6, Tate Bennett 2-1-5, Tyler Bayless 3-0-6, Danny Miller 1-0-3, Ben Morgan 0-0-0, Anthony Banks 0-0-0, Tyler Conley 2-0-5, Jermain Justice 9-3-21, Demetrius Fear 0-2-2, Jasean Kelly 0-2-2. TOTALS: 20, 11-19: 53.
Three-pointers: Salem 4 (Economus 3, Webb), Ravenna 2 (Conley, Miller).
SOUTHEAST SCORING: Corey Proctor 4-1-9, Nathan Symiak 4-0-11, Jordan Krych 8-11-27, Lucas Bloom 2-1-7, Trevor Norquest 6-2-17, Carson Hughes 0-0-0, Kade Norquest 0-2-2. TOTALS: 23, 17-14: 76
NILES SCORING: Kyle Pador 4-1-9, Ray Russ 12-4-30, Chris Parry 4-3-12, Justin Lopes 1-2-5, James Tate 2-6-11, Marcus Hill 0-0-0, Jimmy Mullen 0-0-0. TOTALS: 19, 16-28: 67.
Three-pointers: Southeast 9 (Symiak 3, Norquest 3, Bloom 2, Krych), Niles 5 (Russ 2, Parry, Lopes, Tate).