Salem’s title push goes South

CANTON It was a bittersweet game on Tuesday for Salem’s Ryan Bush. The Quaker senior scored 14 points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer but it came in a brutal 68-44 Northeastern Buckeye Conference loss to league-leader Canton South.

“Tonight might not have been the best game, but we’ve had some good ones along the way,” Bush said. “My teammates look to me to be a scorer. It definitely feels good to break it.”

Bush broke the mark of 1,168 points set by Bill Beery from 1961-1963. Bush tied and broke the record on a pair of free throws with 3:06 left in the game. After the foul shots, with the Quakers down 63-40, he left the game for good. His record now stands at 1,169 points and counting.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Salem coach Rich Hart said. “That’s a 50-year record. It’s too bad it couldn’t happen in a win, but that’s the way it goes.”

Bush, a starter since his sophomore year, said the record is not something he’s thought much about through the years.

“I never really thought about it as a sophomore. Maybe this summer a little bit, when I looked at how I did last year. But winning games is the most important if it happened, it happened, but I didn’t want to make it the main thing.”

Tuesday’s game started out looking like it would be a close contest between the NBC’s top two teams. Salem struck first, and after both teams traded a few buckets, the Quakers trailed just 7-6 with less than two minutes to go in the first period. At that point, though, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to close out the quarter, then carried that into the second when they scored the first four points to go up 19-6.

After a dunk by Bush and a split pair of free throws by Anthony Shiver, the Quakers pulled it to 19-9 with 6:10 left in the half. That was as close as Salem would get, as South four-year letterman Armand Fontes then scored off his own offensive rebound and followed that up with a three-pointer to put the Wildcats up 24-9. That was part of a 13-3 run that put South ahead by 20, 32-12, with just over a minute to go before the half. The Quakers would pull within 15 a couple times after that, but never seriously threatened South’s lead.

“It seemed like we’d get (the score) down a little bit, then turn it over,” Hart said. “We were not able to maintain the consistency we needed. We didn’t shoot well enough, we didn’t get it inside enough.

“(Canton South) played great. They hit shots, they played great defense. They’re a good team. Turnovers were a big thing, especially at inopportune times. They took advantage of that. They did what we didn’t do.”

Bush agreed with his coach.

“They definitely got up on us, put a lot of pressure on us,” he said. “They slowed us down, we couldn’t penetrate, and it was hard for us to enter it into the post.”

Canton South coach Frank Spotleson, meanwhile, was pleased with his team’s effort. Led by seniors Fontes, with 18 points, six assists and six rebounds, Kyle Deckerd, who scored 16 points to go with seven assists, Trey Taylor, who also scored 16 points with six rebounds and five assists, and Austin Jolliff, who scored 10 points and had four blocks, the Wildcats solidified their place atop the NBC.

“That was certainly our best game of the year,” Spotleson said. “We sustained our offensive attack and our defensive attack for the entire game. We kept things at a solid level for the whole game tonight.”

Canton South now sits at 10-2 in the NBC and 17-2 overall, while Salem falls to 8-4 in the league and 13-5 overall. With Alliance and Marlington both picking up wins on Tuesday and improving to 8-3 in the league, the Quakers tumble into fourth place. Alliance beat Carrollton 56-42, while Marlington defeated Louisville 64-45.

“I think for Salem, it was all the marbles tonight,” Spotleson said. “For them to be two games down at this time of the season would be hard.

“There’s still too many variables. It’s way too close for us. But it’s a situation where we control our own destiny. We just need to keep stringing things together like this game. But the league’s tight we still have a lot of work to do.”

Along with Bush, Salem got 11 points and seven rebounds from Anthony Shivers and nine points and six rebounds from Max Wolfgang.

On Friday, Canton South travels to Carrollton and Salem hosts Alliance.

SALEM 6-12-15-11-44

C. SOUTH 14-18-20-16-68

SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 4-6-14, Austin Frank 0-0-0, Zack Wukotich 1-0-2, Brendan Webb 2-1-6, Brooks Bezon 0-0-0, Mike Popa 1-0-2, Ryan Hoover 0-0-0, Zach Economous 0-0-0, Max Wolfgang 3-3-9, Anthony Shivers 5-1-11. TEAM TOTALS: 16, 11-15: 44

CANTON SOUTH SCORING: Armand Fontes 7-1-18, Jason Merriweather 0-0-0, Adam Criswell 0-1-1, Kyle Deckerd 6-0-16, Josh Lyon 2-0-4, Trey Taylor 7-2-16, Dejon Newell 1-1-3, Austin Jolliff 5-0-10, Malik Campbell 0-0-0, Tristan Larsen 0-0-0, Gunner Tharp 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 28, 5-11: 68.

Three-point field goals: Salem 1 (Webb), Canton South 7 (Deckerd 4, Fontes 3).