Salem shoots down Dukes
ALLIANCE — It may not have been snowing outside Marlington High School Friday night, but inside it was certainly raining — three-pointers, that is, courtesy of the red-hot Salem boys’ basketball team.
Playing its finest overall game of the season, Salem hit 12 three-pointers, played tremendous defense and posted an impressive 69-58 Northeastern Buckeye Conference road win over the Dukes.
“Defensively we probably played our best game of the year,” Salem coach Rich Hart said, “especially in the second half.”
Leading the Quakers’ three-point barrage was 6-foot-4 senior standout Mitch Davidson who finished with a game-high 23 points, including six three-pointers.
“I just came out and felt it,” Davidson said. “When I came out in warmups I was just making everything, so I felt like I needed to come out shooting. I made like four (three-pointers) in the first half of the last game, so I felt like I needed to come out firing and give my team a chance to win.”
The Quakers had many stars on the evening as senior guard Seth Shivers poured in 19 points, including two clutch fourth-quarter threes when Marlington was rallying. The Quakers’ Braydon Gibson (three triples) and Trey Double (one trey) finished with nine points each.
In addition, Salem’s Chase Ackerman, Zach Bezon, Turner Johnson and Josh Lehwald were all over the court playing great defense and scrambling for 50-50 basketballs.
“Everybody came in and played well, and that’s what we have to have,” said Hart. “That’s how we can play and we’ve played well two games in a row and we need to keep building on that.”
Marlington coach Nick Evanich was not thrilled with his team’s defensive effort.
“I was definitely disappointed in our effort at times,” said Evanich. “That was not our typical effort defensively.”
Leading the Dukes’ offense was Blaine Himmelheber with 22 points, while Michael Huberty added 15 markers. But Salem did a great job holding Marlington inside standout Austin Brady to seven points.
In a tension-filled game that went back and fourth for the first three-and-a-half quarters, Salem exploded in the closing half of the final period to secure the key road win. The Quakers scored 25 fourth-quarter points and held the Dukes scoreless for over five minutes from late in the third quarter to midway through the fourth frame while building a 59-49 lead with 2:59 left.
“We made a great run in the third quarter after we dug ourselves a hole,” countered Evanich, “but then you go into the fourth quarter and you go 1-for-11 inside six feet.”
Marlington made one last run at the Quakers, outscoring the visitors 6-0 to pull within four (59-55) of Salem with 2:37 showing. But the Quakers closed out the Dukes, outscoring them 10-3 in the remaining time, with Davison stealing a Marlington pass and feeding Double for a layup, while Shivers hit five free throws and Davidson one in the remaining time to secure the win.
“Oh, yeah (it’s our best win),” said Davidson. “We’re on the road and this is one of the toughest gyms, it’s a rough gym to play in,”
“They (the Quakers) can score, obviously they’ve got kids that can score and Davidson is a tremendous player, but our opportunities were there, we just let them slip away,” said Marlington’s Evanich. “We were 18-of-54 from the field and 3-of-15 on threes.”
With the triumph, Salem is now 7-10 overall and 4-8 in NBC action, while Marlington fell to 10-8 and 8-5 in the league.
“They (the Dukes) took the lead (47-42 with 1:41 left in the third quarter) but our kids came back because this is a tough place to win, it’s always a tough place,” said Hart of Salem’s 17-2 run from late in the third quarter to the midway point of the fourth quarter).
“Everybody came in and gave us good minutes, I thought Josh Lehwald did a nice job and gave us good minutes,” he added.
In a tight first half in which neither team led by more than seven points, there were six lead changes as Marlington led 14-12 after one period.
But Salem’s Davidson heated up in the second quarter and drilled a trio of three-pointers and had 13 first-half points. Salem’s last lead of the quarter occurred when Braydon Gibson buried a trey to give the Quakers a 29-28 lead with 2:38 left before half. The two teams went in tied at halftime, 31-31, but Salem took control in the second half. Marlington pulled away in the fourth quarter to post a 60-46 win over Salem in the junior varsity game.
¯ Louisville clinched at least a share of the NBC title with a win over Minerva Friday. The Leopards are two games up on West Branch with two games left — both against West Branch.
¯ The Quakers return to action Tuesday night, traveling to Carrollton to take on the Warriors in NBC action. Salem will turn around and host Carrollton next Friday.
SALEM SCORING: Josh Young 0-0-0, Seth Shivers 6-5-19, Turner Johnson 0-1-1, Braydon Gibson 3-0-9, Zach Bezon 2-0-4, Mitch Davidson 8-1-23, Josh Lehwald 0-0-0, Chase Ackerman 2-0-4, Trey Double 3-2-9 TEAM TOTALS: 24 9-22: 69.
MARLINGTON SCORING: Caleb McCartney 0-0-0, Blaine Himmelheber 6-8-22, Michael Huberty 5-4-15, Reece Kackley 0-0-0, Kaiden Bolyard 1-0-2, Andrew Pucci 2-2-6, Brendan Stinson 2-2-6, Austin Brady 2-3-7. TEAM TOTALS: 18 19-26-58.
Three-point goals: Salem 12 (Mitch Davidson 6, Braydon Gibson 3, Seth Shivers 2, Trey Double 1). Marlington 3 (Blaine Himmelheber 2, Michael Huberty 1).