(Salem MA) A year ago at the same site in a game between the same teams Brighton pulled away from Salem in the second half and won convincingly, 82-61. The Bengals went on from there to become the Division 2 state champs.
This time around (Friday night) Brighton pulled away in the third quarter, leading by as many as thirteen points, but couldn’t hold the lead. Salem caught up late in the fourth quarter and won in overtime, 60-58, in a Division 2 North First Round game.
Salem’s foul shooting was downright frightening (2-for-13) but in overtime that bad foul shooting helped produce the game winning points. How, you ask? The Witches’ Jamie Dominguez went to the line with seventeen seconds left in OT shooting a one-and-one. Salem was clinging to a one-point lead (57-56) at the time. When Jamie missed the front end, Brighton failed to react by blocking out and the rebound came right back to Jamie. In an area where guards (like Jamie) get their shots blocks, Jamie wasted no time putting the ball back toward the basket with his left hand. Off the backboard the shot went and in, and Jamie was fouled as well. This time Jamie made the free throw and Salem suddenly had its biggest lead of the game, 60-56, and Brighton did not recover.
Salem hadn’t played in nine days and it showed. Besides the scary free throw shooting there were also twenty-one turnovers through three quarters.
To say that the Witches (17-4) were fortunate to be anywhere near Brighton after three quarters is a huge understatement. But they were because Brighton had sixteen turnovers through three quarters themselves.
The key to the Salem win, in my opinion, was the tempo change that Brighton opted for after they had the double-digit lead in the second half. It was almost as if they tried to run out the clock too early. They would pass the ball around the perimeter against Salem’s 3-2 zone and launch a long one late in the shot clock. When things were going well for the Bengals they ran their way into good looks and were aggressive in their half-court offense.
Senior Rashad Keys (21 points) made several big plays for Salem in the overtime. He started the scoring with a three from the corner. Later with less than thirty seconds left, and Salem only up by one (57-56), Rashad blocked the shot of driving Mark Mojica.
Brighton (11-11) looked sharp early, jumping in front, 11-4. Senior Mark Mojica (16 points) had two 3’s and a layup off a Salem turnover in the early going.
The Witches were able to come all the way back (21-19) with a 10-2 run. Rashad Keys took a turnover in for a rousing dunk during this segment.
Salem had a 28-27 lead in the first minute of the second half before falling apart for three minutes of playing time. While Salem had four turnovers and two missed free throws, the visitors ran fourteen straight points. Freshman Javaughn Edmonds (14 points) collected five points and Mark Mojica added seven including a 4-point play.
Brighton now had a 41-28 cushion that was even bigger (46-33) when Javaughn hit a three and took a turnover in for two with three minutes left in the third quarter.
This was where I thought the Brighton tempo changed. The Bengals got deliberate and the Witches became much more active on offense getting second chances and making layups.
A run of eight straight put Salem within four (47-43) two minutes into the final quarter. A three by freshman Tyrone Perry stopped the bleeding momentarily before the Witches went on a 9-2 run to tie the score at 52-52 with 1:50 left. A 3-point shot from the corner by Rashad Keys was the tying hoop.
Mark Mujica gave Brighton a 2-point lead but Jamie Dominguez (17 points) answered with a jump shot in the last twenty seconds. Mark Mujica had a shot in the lane in the closing seconds of regulation but it wouldn’t fall. Overtime went Salem’s way and they will advance to play #6 seed Belmont on March 3rd.
David Kazadi (12 points) and Bryan Martinez-Rodriguez (10 points) also reached double figures for Salem.
Jason Jones had thirteen points for Brighton while Tyrone Perry added three 3’s.
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)