Salem subdues Minerva
SALEM — Salem, the defending boys’ basketball tri-champion of the Eastern Buckeye Conference, opened its EBC season in impressive fashion Friday night, combining a swarming defensive performance with a balanced scoring attack to post a 46-34 league win over Minerva before a spirited crowd in John A. Cabas Gymnasium.
“We got after it,” smiled Salem head coach Jeff Andres of the Quakers’ air-tight defensive performance. “Our effort tonight was exponentially better than it was Tuesday night (in a close non-league loss to Niles). It was 100 percent (better).”
“We played hard, we wanted the game to be in the 40s, which it was, but we just didn’t make enough open shots,” said Minerva head coach Shawn Green.
With the win, the Quakers evened their overall record to 1-1 and began EBC play at 1-0. And the Quakers have managed to split their first two games despite missing one of their key players in Jon Null, who was out this week (non-Covid but quarantined) and is expected back soon.
“He (Null) is quarantined for a little bit, but we’ll have him back this coming week,” said Andres. “It will be a huge difference for us because he does so much on both ends of the floor and in the locker room. No doubt about it, we miss him, but we had some guys step up tonight and play really well.”
The veteran Salem team put together an impressive defensive effort against the Lions (1-1, 0-1 EBC). The taller Quakers were successful in denying much inside and forcing the Lions to live on the perimeter.
Meanwhile, the Quakers put together a balanced scoring attack, led by 6-6 senior sharpshooter Drew Weir, who had a game-high 16 points, including a three-pointer and a slam dunk, while 6-5 senior Cade Rohm added 10 points. Senior Brock Young added seven points and sophomore Ross Davidson finished with five points.
“Just playing together,” said Weir of the Quakers’ expectations for the season. “We have a lot of seniors coming together for wins. Defense comes first for us.”
“(Cade) Rohm and Drew (Weir) are two of the (seniors) who have played and they certainly showed that (in leadership) tonight,” said Andres.
Minerva was paced by standout senior Brayden Costea, who was the only Lion in double figures with 16 points but was held to just three points after intermission by the Quakers’ tight defense.
The Quakers also dominated the boards, 31-18, led by Rohm with a game-high 12 rebounds and Weir with seven, including a block. Connor Shingleton led the Lions with eight rebounds.
“Cade stepped up and got a lot of boards for us,” praised Weir.
Minerva also had a poor night from the free throw line, converting just three of 16 attempts while the Quakers were nine-of-14 at the stripe.
“We were three of 16 which is about as bad as we’ve been in a game since I’ve been here,” said Green. “Maybe it was a little jitters, maybe we were a little tired because we’re not real deep on the bench but we have to be better at the line, but I liked the way we battled.”
Salem strolled out to a 14-7 first-quarter lead but the Lions slowly chipped away at that advantage and took a brief 18-17 lead in the second quarter, following a layup by Costea with just over 2:00 left before the break.
But the Quakers’ defense held Minerva scoreless in the final two minutes. Meanwhile, Weir, who led the Quakers in the opening 16 minutes with eight points, including a thunderous slam dunk, found the bottom of two free throws with 55.5 seconds left as Salem regained the lead for good at 19-18. Salem’s Ross Davidson had a steal and layup in the closing seconds of the first half, as the Quakers took a 21-18 advantage into the locker room.
The Quakers got all the cushion they needed as they scored the first six points of the third quarter during an 11-3 run to gain a 32-21 lead following a layup by Weir with 3:44 showing. The Quakers expanded the lead to 10 points (36-26) after three.
“They (the Quakers) got that comfort zone at 10 or 12 points and it would have been nice to keep it at four-to-six points,” observed Green.
“In the first half we had a couple letdowns and let Costea get loose a little bit but we did a much better job on him in the second half,” said Andres.
Minerva got as close as eight points twice in the final period, the last coming at 38-30 with 5:44 showing but the Quakers outscored the Lions 8-4 in the remaining time. Salem took its largest lead of the night at 14 points (46-32) following a layup by Young with 1:06 left and went on to close out the win.
Salem won the junior varsity game, which had a running clock, by a 58-13 final. Caden Swiger and Dillon Monroy led Salem with 15 points apiece.
The Quakers travel to Canton South next Friday for an EBC game with the Wildcats.
“Tonight was a league win and we’re still finding ourselves,” said Andres. “We have high expectations. We’re 1-0 in the league, we’ll take it, and it’s exactly where we want to be.”
MINERVA SCORING: Brayden Davis 1-2-5, Connor Shingleton 2-1-5, Dylan Phillips 0-0-0, Ryan Cassidy 0-0-0, Jayden Yeager 2-0-6, Erik Murray 0-0-0, Brayden Costea 7-0-16, Peyton Rich 0-0-0, Braxton Davis 1-0-2, Matthew Phillips 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 13, 3-16: 34.
SALEM SCORING: Brock Young 3-1-7, Caden Swiger 0-0-0, Dillon Monroy 1-0-2, Drew Weir 5-5-16, Cam Jaquette 0-0-0, Ross Davidson 2-1-5, Lance Bailey 0-0-0, Davin Koskinen 2-0-4, Austin Sinkovich 1-0-2, Cam Sampson 0-0-0, Cade Rohm 4-2-10. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 9-14: 46.
Three-point goals: Minerva 5 (Jayden Yeager 2, Brayden Costea 2, Brandon Davis 1). Salem 1 (Drew Weir 1).
Total fouls: Salem 19, Minerva 17.
Fouled out: none.