SALEM - The Salem Quakers headed to the locker room at halftime of Friday night's game with Carrollton faced with a deficit for the first time all season.
Playing on their home floor, a place they had vowed to protect at the onset of the season, the Quakers responded in the second and outscored the Warriors 41-25 over the final 24 minutes for a 64-55 win.
"I'm proud of the way we played in the second half," Salem coach Rich Hart said. "We were awful in the first half. I think we were fortunate to be down by seven at halftime."'
Salem improves to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference. The Quakers will host Canton South next Friday.
Carrollton came out shooting, getting a three by Andrew Collins to start off the game to put Salem down early. The Quakers came back, rattling off seven straight to put Salem in control at 9-5 with 5:02 to play.
Carrollton, however, controlled the final five minutes of play, using a 14-6 run to close out the first frame.
Turnovers, poor rebounding and and inability to successfully move the basketball marred a first quarter that resulted in Salem trailing 19-15 after one.
"That's the key," Hart said. "If we can move the basketball we are tough to beat. If we don't, we play like we did in the first half."
Andrew Collins knocked down back-to-back jumpers, the second of which from beyond the arc to stake the Warriors out to the four-point lead after one.
Anthony Shivers appeared to be the Quakers lone bright spot in the first quarter, collecting seven of his career-high 26 points. Shivers was particularly effective in the press breaker, knocking down multiple mid-range jumpers from the corner.
Shivers' pervious career high had been 21 points.
"Tony had a great game, and he had a couple huge rebounds. He also had a big block down low," Hart said. "Max (Wolfgang) did a super job as well. Our big guys were the difference in the game."
Salem's duo combined for 37 of the Quakers' 64 points, with Wolfgang pouring in 11 of his own and pulling down 10 boards for a double-double.
Salem didn't fare much better in the second quarter, and saw its deficit grow to as many as ten in the frame. Zade Dietz buried a trey with 2:48 to play giving Carrollton a 28-18 lead and forcing Rich Hart to call a timeout.
Coming out of the break, Salem was able to cut the deficit to seven as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
"Our main focus was getting the ball inside and to move the basketball," Hart said. "We did way too much dribbling. We panicked too much. We were putting our head down and driving to nowhere."
The Quakers opted to apply the pressure in the second half by making use of a full-court press, something they kept in their back pocket until the third quarter.
"We usually save that for the second half," Hart said. "We used it then and we were able to get some turnovers."
Dietz knocked down another triple to start off the half, resetting the Warriors' lead at ten, but Salem chipped away throughout the frame and eventually worked it back to four with 3:09 to play.
"Our kids never back down there was quite a bit of diversity with some strange things that happened in the first half," Hart said. "They kept their composure for the most part and got it done."
Baskets by Shivers and Wolfgang knotted the score at 35 for the first time since the opening quarter before Stephen Erickson converted on a three-point play to stake Carrolton back in the lead.
It didn't last long as Shivers got a basket of his own and a chance to go to the line for extra. Shivers was unable to convert on the three-point play, but the foul drawn on Stephen Erickson sent the Warriors' inside threat to the bench with four fouls.
Shivers gave the Quakers their first lead since the first quarter with an assist from Anthony Frank. Shivers and Frank combined to force a turnover by the Warriors, and a tic-tac-toe passing display between the two saw Shivers finish with the basket.
"That was huge," Hart said. "Then Wukotch hits a big basket to put us up four. Again our bench, Wuk did a nice job, Madison did a nice job, Austin Frank did a nice job. We got good contributions from a good chunk of our bench and that's been a key for us all year long."
The basket by Wukotich forced the hand of Carrollton coach Matt Voll to call a timeout. Erickson re-entered the ballgame, and converted a three-point play to cut the lead to one, but Zach Economous answered right back with a triple to keep Salem ahead for the duration.
"In the second half we played some defense and we were unselfish with the basketball," Hart said. "We got the ball inside and when we were double teamed inside we kicked it out for three. Basketball is not that scientific if you just do the right things."
The Quakers made use of the free throw line over the final 1:54. Despite going just 20-32 on the evening, Shivers, Ryan Bush and Brendan Webb combined to sink 4-of-6 during that span to create a cushion.
"It was a huge atmosphere tonight, terrific, and it ought to keep getting bigger," Hart said.
SALEM: 15- 8-19-22-64
CARROLLTON SCORING: Jake Peterson 4-2-10, Caleb Hartlong 0-1-1, Caleb Pasiuk 1-1-4, Zade Deitz 3-0-7, Andrew Collins 5-0-13, Mirko Dobrijevic 0-1-1, Stephen Erickson 8-3-19. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 8-15, 55.
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 4-6-14, Mike Madison 0-1-1, Zack Wukotich 1-1-3, Brendan Webb 1-1-4, Zach Economous 1-2-5, Max Wolfgang 3-5-11, Anthony Shivers 11-4-26. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 20-32, 64.
Three-point goals: Carrollton 5 (Collins 3, Dietz, Pasiuk), Salem 2 (Economous, Webb).