ALLIANCE - For the second-straight week the Salem Quakers learned the same lesson the hard way - if you let a team hang around, it will come back to haunt you. Last Friday, Salem lost a lead and the game in double overtime to West Branch. This Friday, the Quakers dropped a 55-52 decision at Marlington despite leading until the final two minutes.
"We played good basketball for 30 minutes," Salem coach Rich Hart said. "For 30 minutes, we did everything right. The last two minutes just didn't go our way."
Salem led by as much as eight in the last quarter, but couldn't expand on it. On the contrary, the Dukes were able to chip away at it. Still, the Quakers led by four with just 2:05 remaining, but back-to-back turnovers and back-to-back missed shots allowed Marlington to pull ahead 53-52 with 37 seconds on the clock. The Quakers were given one more chance at the lead or the tie when they went to the line with four ticks left. Salem missed both.
"We missed two shots and we had turnovers in the last two minutes of the game," Hart added. "If we don't do one of those four things or do one of those four things right, we win. We missed the foul shots at the end, but we shouldn't have even been in that position. If we would have made one of the earlier shots, we're up by six. If we make both, we're up by eight. They were good shots. We moved the ball around and we were wide open. They just didn't go in."
Salem was forced to foul the Dukes in the final seconds. Marlington hit two-of-four at the line to close the door on the Quakers.
"Marlington is good basketball team," Hart said. "We played them tough and I was happy with our effort. It's a learning process and we'll learn from this."
After one complete quarter, the two NBC teams were deadlocked at 12. Ryan Bush and Trent Kenreigh - Salem's top scorers with 14 and 12 points respectively - each nailed a 3-pointer in the opening quarter. Brenden Webb pulled down four rebounds in the first.
The Dukes' Jesse Carpenter, who finished with 13, scored eight points in the first frame with a pair of 3-point buckets and a two-pointer. Shawn Kirk also found the basket from 3-point territory.
The Quakers were able to gain a 25-23 edge at the half. They forced six turnovers in the period - Bush and Kenreigh each came up with a steal - and Zach Economous came off the bench to drain a 3-pointer just as the buzzer sounded.
"Our bench did a good job," Hart said. "They came in and sparked us especially in the third."
The Quakers' Zach Penick, who would register 10 points, on the night scored six in the third quarter. Ecomomous hit another 3-point shot and Brayden Myer led with three rebounds. Salem outdid the Dukes 17-13 in the period and led 42-36 after three complete, before letting Marlington back in the fourth.
The Dukes were led by Lucas Strouble. Strouble hit seven from the field and four from the line to finish with a game-high 17. He also had 10 rebounds to register a double-double. Alex Williamson added 14 points.
Four games into the season, the Quakers now stand at .500 and winless in the NBC. They next play East Liverpool on Tuesday at home before traveling to Minerva on Friday.
The J.V. Dukes defeated Salem, 35-21.
MARLINGTON: 12 11 13 19 - 55
SALEM: 12 13 17 10 - 52
MARLINGTON SCORING: Micah Hall 2-0-4, Shawn Kirk 1-0-3, Dan Krupko 1-1-3, Alex Williamson 6-3-14, Lucas Strouble 7-3-17, Jesse Carpenter 5-0-13, Thomas Mason 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 23, 6-12, 55.
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 6-1-14, Trent Kenreigh 5-1-12, Zach Penick 5-0-10, Zach Economous 2-0-6, Max Wolfgang 1-2-4, Anthony Shivers 3-0-6. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 4-9. 52.
THREE POINTERS: Marlington 5 (Carpenter 3, Kirk, Williamson), Salem 4. (Economous 2, Bush, Kenreigh),