Leopards pounce on Quakers
LOUISVILLE — Salem played hard, but turnovers and poor free-throw shooting hurt the Quakers in a 72-58 Northeastern Buckeye Conference boys’ basketball setback at rival Louisville Friday night.
How fierce was the play? A total of 38 personal fouls were called, including 22 on the Leopards, including two technicals.
But it was turnovers and a bad night at the line which haunted the Quakers. Salem finished with 20 turnovers and was just six of 19 at the stripe, while Louisville was 17 of 20 at the free throw line.
“We had some very untimely turnovers, that (20) is way too many,” said Salem head coach Rich Hart. “That was the difference in the ballgame. That can’t happen. Our kids played hard and I thought our kids maintained their composure and I was real proud of them for that.”
The NBC is moving on without Louisville next season, so Salem was making its last-ever trip to Louisville.
“Am I upset that this is the last time I am going to be here?” added Hart. “Absolutely not. I am obviously happy I will never have to come here again.”
Then Hart peered at the final free-throw shooting and shook his head.
“Six of 19 (at the free throw line),” pondered the Salem coach. “I think I could do that blind-folded. I know I could shoot that blindfolded,” he quipped.
Louisville was also deadly from the outside, hitting nine three-pointers in the game to two for the Quakers.
“I thought our kids did just enough in the second half to kind of create a little separation and let us do what we wanted to do,” said Louisville head coach Tom Siegfried.
The Leopards placed three players in double figures, led by Brandon Wahl with 14 points, including two three-pointers, while Colton Jones had 13, including a trio of treys, and Derek Zeller finished with 13 points, including two three-pointers.
For Salem, 6-5 star Mitch Davidson led all scorers with 22 points, including both of Salem’s three-pointers, and 6-6 Chase Ackerman ended with 14 points and Seth Shivers added nine markers.
“I think Chase (Ackerman coming off a football injury) is getting better and better, so that’s a real positive, and we have to do a better job getting him the ball,” said Hart.
With the loss, Salem falls to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the NBC, while Louisville is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the NBC.
With Ackerman doing damage inside while scoring 10 first-quarter points, Salem controlled the tempo in the first quarter and led by as many as seven points in the opening frame. Louisville clawed back to within two points (18-16) at the end of the frame.
But in the second quarter, Louisville began to turn up its defensive intensity and forced 10 second-quarter turnovers out of the Quakers, some which ended in fast break points and others in free throws for the Leopards. LHS took its first lead at 19-18 on two free throws by Wahl at the 6:41 mark. The hosts took their biggest lead of the first half when forward Bryce Zuppe floated in a three-pointer at the buzzer and LHS took a 35-29 lead at the break.
“I’m proud of our effort tonight and the mistakes (turnovers) are something we can fix,” said Hart.
Louisville went out to as much as a 17-point lead (51-34) at the outset of the third period but Salem went on a 13-5 run, with Davidson scoring eight in the spurt, and Salem pulled within seven (53-46) with just over a minute left in the frame, but LHS hit a three at the buzzer to lead 58-48 after three.
“We talked to our guys this week about getting up in the gap (defensively), pressuring the ball and making sure we made it hard for them (the Quakers) to enter the ball,” said Siegfried, “and I think late in the third and early in the fourth we kind of wore them down a little bit.”
Louisville closed out the game in the fourth, taking as much as 17-point lead on two occasions, the last coming at 70-53 with 2:47 left and went on to secure the win.
In the junior varsity game, Louisville posted a 53-41 win.
Salem returns to action next Friday night at NBC-leading Minerva.
After the Minerva game, Salem will have played four of its last five games on the road. The Quakers’ next home game is Saturday, Jan. 6 against United Local.
“It’s a big weekend next weekend,” said Hart. “Minerva is probably going to 4-0 in the league so they will be atop the NBC when we go in there next Friday, so that’s going to be a big game.”
SALEM SCORING: Josh Young 1-0-2, Niko Walter 0-0-0, Seth Shivers 4-1-9, Braydon Gibson 0-0-0, Turner Johnson 1-1-3, Zach Bezon 2-2-6, Mitch Davidson 9-2-22, Josh Lehwald 0-0-0, Chase Ackerman 7-0-14, Trey Double 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 25 6-18: 58.
LOUISVILLE SCORING: Travis Jones 0-0-0, Davis Burick 1-0-2, Scott Gronow 0-4-4, Max Hartline 1-3-5, Brandon Wahl 4-4-14, Jimmy Wright 0-0-0, Jared Mathie 2-0-5, Derek Zeller 5-1-13, Ryan Pukys 1-2-4, Bryce Zuppe 3-1-8, Cam King 0-0-0, Colton Jones 5-0-13, Collin Chambers 0-0-0, Spencer Hall 1-2-4, Cory Noble 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 23, 17-20: 72
Three-point goals: Salem — 2 (Mitch Davidson 2. Louisville 9 (Colton Jones 3, Derek Zeller 2, Brandon Wahl 2, Jared Mathie 1, Bryce Zuppe 1).