Excitement builds in Salem
SALEM — Led by junior Jon Null’s game-high 15 points, the Salem boys basketball team opened Eastern Buckeye Conference play with a solid 56-40 league win over Minerva in John A. Cabas Gymnasium Friday night.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time but things are looking good and we’re excited about this team,” said Salem coach Jeff Andres, whose Quakers paid their dues last season and return a majority of their team this winter. “We’re excited and thrilled to see where this goes.”
“They (the Quakers) are a veteran group, they have everybody back from last year and they’re still semi young,” said Minerva coach Shawn Green. “They’re going to be scary.”
The win raised the Quakers’ overall record to 2-1 to go along with a 1-0 league mark. Minerva is now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in EBC action.
Null played one of his best overall games for the Quakers, while teammate Drew Weir finished with 14 points, including two of the Quakers’ six-three-pointers. Salem displayed excellent offensive balance as nine different Quakers scored in the contest and 14 players saw the court.
“I just got into a rhythm,” said Null. “I take a lot of pride in my defense and I like finishing (at the rim on offense) as well.”
“It was good to have him (Null) back, no doubt,” said Andres. “He was a little under the weather and didn’t make it Tuesday (at Springfield Local), but he is very important to us at both ends of the court.”
Minerva was led by Brayden Costea who finished with 12 points and Kole Mayle ended with 10.
“All we talked about at halftime (trailing by one point at 24-23) was coming out and playing well in the third quarter, but we got down by 10 right away and they kind of slugged us in the face and then it was kind of catch up from there,” said Green.
Salem used swarming defensive pressure throughout in the up-tempo game and forced 14 turnovers out of the Lions. Salem also blocked several Minerva shots in the paint.
“We have some guards that we think can apply the pressure,” said Andres. “They were trying to get Costea and (Noah) Sallade involved in the offense and maybe we took them out of that a little bit. It was a good all-around victory.”
“We attacked the rim but they (the Quakers) had a lot of blocked shots and a lot of deflected passes,” said Green. “Their length kind of hurt us. We were also playing a man down tonight as one of our normal starters, Owen Swogger, was out. He had 14 points for us in the opener, including four threes.”
The Lions jumped out to a 5-0 lead when Cole Mayle hit a three-pointer at the 6:56 mark of the first period. But Salem caught and passed the Lions at 10-9 on a Weir layup with 3:20 left in the frame. The Quakers led 13-9 after one.
The game remained close throughout the second quarter as Minerva briefly regained the lead at 20-18 on another three-pointer by Shingleton with 3:18 left before the break, but the Quakers outscored the Lions 6-3 in the remaining time to hold a slim 24-23 advantage at intermission.
“We were pretty happy in the first half being down one,” said Green. “Honestly I thought we could have been up by a couple, we missed some easy ones early and I was really happy with the fight to get it to one.”
Salem outscored the Lions 7-2 to open the third quarter and took a 31-25 advantage following a Null layup with 5:30 left in the third and maintained that seven-point lead (41-33) at period’s end.
The Quakers had a big fourth quarter and outscored the Lions 15-7 in the stanza. The hosts took their biggest lead of the game at 18 points (56-38) when Weir, who had both of his three-pointers in the fourth quarter, converted two free throws with 1:07 remaining and the Quakers went on to close out the win.
“He (Weir) was frustrated (early) because they did a great job of bodying him up but we were preaching to him to just be patient and let the game come to you,” said Andres. “He’s the guy with two minutes to go and playing with a lead that can (drain) a three because that’s about as good as a layup for us.”
Minerva captured the junior varsity game by a 48-43 final. Ross Davidson led the Quakers with 12 points. Brady Kovach paced the Lions with 13 markers.
The Quakers are idle Tuesday, but travel to Alliance Friday night for a conference game against the Aviators (1-1, 1-0 EBC).
The Lions travel to Tusky Valley Tuesday for an independent contest with the Trojans.
“Good luck to Shawn (Green) and Minerva, they play hard as they always do,” said Andres.
MINERVA: 9-14-10- 7–40
MINERVA SCORING: Connor Shingleton 2-0-6, Brady Kovach 1-0-2, Noah Sallade 4-0-8, Brayden Costea 5-2-12, Drew Spall 1-0-2, Chase Martineau 0-0-0, Kole Mayle 3-3-10, Ja’son Barrino 0-0-0, Alex Apisa 0-0-0, J-allen Barrino 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 5-7: 40.
SALEM SCORING: Hunter Griffith 2-1-5, Sam Walter 1-0-3, Cam Jaquette 0-0-0, Landon Cooper 0-0-0, Caden Swiger 0-0-0, Austin Sinkovitz 0-0-0, Jack Wilson 0-0-0, Lucas Ziegler 0-0-0, Brock Young 2-1-5, Dillon Monroy 0-4-4, Drew Weir 4-4-14, Davin Koskinen 1-0-3, Jon Null 6-2 15, Cade Rohm 3-0-7. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 12-15: 56.
3 Point goals: Minerva 3 (Connor Shingleton 2, Kale Mayle), Salem 6 (Drew Weir 2, Sam Walter, Davin Koskinen, Jon Null, Cade Rohm).
Total fouls:, Minerva14, Salem 10; Fouled out: none.