(Salem) Lynn English (17-1) trailed by ten points with three minutes left but rallied on both ends of the court and defeated Salem, 78-70, on Tuesday night before a sizable group of passionate fans.
Salem (15-3) looked to be rolling to victory with a, 69-59, lead but seemed to collectively run out of gas and the Bulldogs capitalized in a big way in the final hectic three minutes.
The only positive Salem had in the last three minutes was one free throw (Antonio Reyes). The rest was ugly: seven turnovers, two missed threes, and two missed free throws.
While all that bad stuff was happening to the Witches, Lynn English scored at least two points in nine of their last ten possessions. After the score was tied at 70-70 with 1:04 left, the Bulldogs ran off eight unanswered points including six free throws without a miss in front of a loud Salem student section.
Salem had won an earlier meeting (66-63) in late December.
This was the last regular season home game for Salem and their seniors were honored before the game. This team will surely get a home game in the MIAA Division 2 tournament starting in a couple of weeks.
Antonio Reyes (34 points) put on one of those shows that people will be talking about years from now. Against a team with shot blockers (Keandre Stanton and Corey McMillen) Antonio took the ball to the basket. Against steady denial defense from Trevonne Berry-Rogers, Antonio found openings for 3’s. He also took in fifteen rebounds and handed out eight assists.
However, in crunch time LE doubled Antonio to get the ball out of his hands and that led to a slew of turnovers that proved decisive.
Antonio would foul out with thirty-nine seconds left. Keandre Stanton converted both free throws to put the Bulldog ahead 74-70 and Salem had no offense left the rest of the way.
While Antonio had the fans oohing and aahing, Trevonne Berry-Rogers quietly picked up twenty-six points for LE. He was good from all the scoring stations and also had a big steal and layin during the last thirty seconds of the game.
The Bulldogs have several serious shot blockers and when they weren’t actually blocking shots they were discouraging Salem’s undersized players from getting to the basket.
Salem started fast winning all the scrambling battles. 5 ½ minutes in they were up, 17-8. During the last part of the second quarter all that hustling around, plus having played a game on Sunday, seemed to catch up to the Witches. A 30-21 advantage was trimmed to just 33-31 by the fresher Bulldogs.
Salem started the second half rested and scored the first nine points (Antonio – five points, Christian Dunston and Raphy Medrano two points each).
Later in the 3rd quarter, the Bulldogs chopped eight points (six from Travonne and two from Corey) off a 48-38 lead and only trailed 54-51 at the end of that quarter.
On this night Salem rallied around Antonio and pushed the lead back to ten (64-54 and 69-59) in the final period. One particular play during this good offense may have factored into Salem’s late-game demise, however. Antonio went in for a layup on the left and Keandre came over and blocked the shot sending Antonio hard to the floor. Antonio came out of that action was a sore hip with about five minutes left.
LE put together a 19-1 run during the final three minutes and avenged their only loss of the season in the process. LE has now won fourteen straight and clinched the conference title for the fifth straight season.
LE had twenty turnover through three quarters. Salem played five guards and their quickness caused numerous Bulldog miscues.
Josh Costello collected sixteen points including four 3’s for LE.
Antonio had a huge night but made the Salem attack more predictable than usual in the second half. When all five players are included in the offense, the double teams Antonio faced would have led to teammates getting open shots.
Raphy Medrano tallied thirteen points but was held scoreless in the final quarter.
Corey McMillen (23 points) and Keandre Stanton (13 points) led the Bulldog big men.
In a highly-charged atmosphere tempers can flare and things can get ugly off the court after the game. Saw none of that at Salem High. The reason? The players were respectful of each other. That set the tone for the fans. When Antonio Reyes joked with Travonne Berry-Rogers during an interlude it lessened the animosity possibilities. When they embraced afterwards you knew that the rivalry had reverted to respect and admiration. Good stuff, I thought.
(I gather my own stats and take my own pictures. I draw my own conclusions. Mistakes are unintentional.)