Bush breaks single-game scoring record

SALEM – Friday night at the John A. Cabas Gymnasium, Ryan Bush joined a distinct club in Salem basketball history by recording his 1,000th career point in a Quaker uniform. For his encore on Tuesday, Bush broke the long-standing record for points in a single game.

With 47 points in a 83-64 victory over Liberty, Bush surpassed the previous mark of 45 held by Walt DeShields, now the head coach of the West Branch girls program, that was set in 1979.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen today, no way,” Bush said. “I had 26 at the half, and guys were joking with me, saying ‘hey, you’re almost there.’ Then I actually thought about it, but I just wanted to play the game. Then I started getting close to it and started knocking shots down.”

Salem sputtered early on at both ends of the floor, which resulted in head coach Rich Hart electing to use a timeout up 9-8 with 3:50 to play in the first quarter.

“All we were doing was playing one-on-one. We weren’t running any offense,” Hart said. We had a lead but it didn’t matter, we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do. For a while there we played pretty good basketball, but in the second half we just never got it going defensively.”

What coach Hart addressed with the break took hold, and Salem responded with two quick baskets to jumpstart a 12-0 run to give themselves a comfortable cushion at 21-8 to close out the quarter.

The Leopards had virtually no answer for the Salem’s fast break. The Quakers run was keyed by baskets in transition, and Bush was responsible for 15 of the Quakers 21 first quarter points.

The Leopards D.J Hight put down a dunk in the second quarter with 4:05 to play that appeared to bring a jolt of energy to the Liberty bench. Bush quickly extinguished any fire they might have gotten from the dunk, beating the Leopards back down the floor for a three pointer from the left wing.

Bush came up with another basket in transition off of a turnover seconds later, and it forced Liberty head coach Dan Bubon to burn his third timeout of the half.

“I’m normally not the best 3 point shooter,” Bush said. “Tonight they just started dropping for me and I just kind of let it come to me. Brendan Webb kept feeding me the ball and I kept knocking them down. The bigs did a great job rebounding and out-letting the ball for us to get fast break points. It was a fun game.”

By the time the smoke settled at the half, Bush had 26 of his team’s 50 points, and had scored as many as the entire Liberty team had amassed.

Anthony Shivers also poured in 11 of his 20 points on the evening in the second quarter to help stake Salem out to the large lead.

In the second half, Salem struggled to continue with the momentum that they had built up throughout the first. A 20-7 run through the third quarter cut the Salem lead to just 11 points with just over a minute to play in the frame.

“We were pathetic defensively, and you have to give them (Liberty) a lot of credit,” Hart said. “They kept coming at us, they hit some tough shots and they played hard.”

Aside from a pair of dunks from Bush and Shivers, there was little to feel good about in that third stanza.

“We wanted to get the ball inside more and we wanted to take care of the ball,” Hart said. “You can’t outscore people when you really need to, against real teams. In the league we’re going to play defense.”

The Quakers regained their form in the fourth, going on an 11-2 run to open the quarter and with six minutes left, Salem had another comfortable lead at 72-48.

Liberty did not go away, and knocked down a pair of three’s from Hight and Darrien Underwood to appear alive, but as the fourth quarter wore on, the Leopards continued to foul Bush and send him to the free throw line.

He continued to knock them down.

“We were going to take him out when he had 36, and then he missed a free-throw. Then he hits a three and goes to 39, then he got to 42, then 44 and I took him out.

With the latest member of the 1,000 point club on the bench, chants of “put Bush in,” began to fill the air. Hart then summoned his senior guard from the bench to renter the game.

“I’ve had three of my players break it in Minerva, and I let all three of them. So as long as it’s one of your own players,” Hart said. “There’s always that chance though of him getting hurt. Luckily the scoreboard was tight, you know if it’s 20, I don’t think he comes back on the floor. It’s a fine line, you never want to show up an opponent and that’s definitely not what we wanted to do.”

Again on a free throw, this time with just 16 seconds left on the clock, Bush stepped to the line. A collective “whoosh” from the Quaker faithful accompanied the ball through the basket and the crowd rose to their feet to give Bush a standing ovation as he exited the floor for the final time.

“It’s crazy,” Bush said with a smile as he was sported a new haircut that many of the Quaker teammates shared for the evening’s game.

“We were going to do a team haircut, and we couldn’t get anyone together,” he said with a laugh. “There were about five our six of us that all got together and we thought we should put our numbers in it. But one number on one side was kind of weird, so some of us added something on the other side to kind of balance it out.”

Salem also won the jayvee game 49-42. Mike Popa paced the Quakers with 24 points. Ryan Hoover and Trey Toothman each chipped in with eight points.

Salem hosts West Branch on Friday.