(Salem) Salem (15-2) shot its way past non-league Everett (8-7) on Sunday night, 70-63, before a small crowd at Salem High School.
The Witches dazzled from long-distance (15-for-32) and built up a, 65-50, lead early in the 4th quarter before cooling off and enabling the Crimson Tide to make a 13-5 closing rush and cause the final score to look a little closer than it actually was.
Everett edged to within six (65-59) in the last period, on nine-straight Matt Costello points, but Brad Skeffington answered with a three to seal it for Salem.
The next game for Salem is a must-see on Tuesday night (7PM) at home against Lynn English. The Bulldogs are 16-1 with the only blemish a 66-63 December loss to Salem. That was a game where LE had a six-point lead late and the Witches rallied around a Brad Skeffington trey to pull it out.
LE has won thirteen straight since then. Salem has now won nine straight. Should be a good one.
I’m sure that Salem would love to have some of the team-wide, 3-point accuracy against LE that they had against Everett. Each starter had at least two 3’s. All five starters would end up in double figures. How do you defend that??
Everett used a box-and-one against superstar Antonio Reyes and he was content in the first half to open things up for his teammates.
Credit Everett. They shot well early and turned up high percentage looks and held the lead until the last minute of the first quarter.
However, three’s from Dario Medrano and Antonio Reyes plus a Raphy Medrano free throw gave Salem the lead (25-19) 1 ½ minutes into the second quarter. The Witches held the lead thereafter.
The Crimson Tide was still just a basket away after an Alain Jeanty layup near the end of the 2nd quarter but an eight-point Salem run, stretching into the 3rd quarter, pushed their advantage to 44-33. Three’s by Raphy Medrano and Christian Dunston plus a Brad Skeffington layup provided the points.
Everett rallied to 55-48 before Salem put together a game-deciding, eight straight as three consecutive Crimson Tide turnovers led to points. Antonio and Brad added two free throws each while Dario and Antonio netted layups.
Salem’s advantage was now 63-48 and despite Matt Costello’s nine points in the last quarter this one never got close enough late to create an outcome mystery.
Two things about Salem that I noticed were: (1) they play a very active zone and (2) they will pressure an opponent after a rebound.
Their zone better be good because they really are going with five guards. Granted, these guards can jump, but they are guards!
Defending Salem is a problem. Those matchups that look juicy when you have the ball backfire when Salem has the ball. They spread the court and an opponent has to respect their long-range talent. This opens up lanes to the basket where their quickness is an advantage.
Antonio Reyes was very patient with his offense in the first half. The second half he had the ball more and got to the basket and the foul line regularly. He can dominate a game.