CANTON - The Salem boys basketball team improved to 12-2 on the year with a 72-67 overtime win over St. Thomas Aquinas in the Mercy Medical Classic on Saturday afternoon.
Salem overcame a fourth quarter deficit to take the lead before the Knights tied the game in the final minute of regulation to force overtime.
Salem had the ball for a final shot but wasn't able to connect, resulting in the extra frame.
"We held for the last shot, so we wanted to make sure we either won it, or we went to overtime," Salem head coach Rich Hart said. We really played well in overtime. Max [Wolfgang] made a couple big plays, he made a nice pass to Tony [Shivers] for a basket. He missed a free-throw but then he tipped it back out so we kept the possession and that keyed an 8-0 run in overtime."
The win for the Quakers guarantees Hart's first winning season in his three-year stint with the team.
"It's nice to have that monkey off of your back, but we definitely need to concentrate and play better against Marlington on Tuesday," he said.
The Quakers endured their second stretch of back-to-back games with two wins, though Hart could see fatigue in his players from their win less than 24 hours before. Top scorer Ryan Bush, kept it up, scoring a game-high 29 points.
"Yeah we were a little slow, we were about a step slow getting out to some shooters," Hart said. "But that can't be an excuse, we still have to get it done."
The Knights had a successful night from three-point land, connecting on a total of 11 triples.
"Oh they shot well, they made 11 3's. We struggled closing out on them early," Hart said. "We had a stretch in the second quarter where we turned the ball over two or three times and took a couple bad shots which could have increased our lead. But we persevered."
The Quakers took advantage of 23 turnovers, particularly a few critical errors by the Knights down the stretch to allow them back in the game when they were down late.
"Our first tournament classic game was a success even through the diversity of playing in our first overtime game of the year after a very emotional rival game the night before. But an ugly win is better than a pretty loss and we will take it," added assistant coach Andy Smyczynski said. "To only have one day to prepare for one of the many tough road games we have left starting with Marlington...We as a team control our destiny and the championship crown of the NBC starts Tuesday."
Salem will travel to Marlington to take on the Dukes on Tuesday night. The Quakers defeated Marlington 56-43 on Dec. 14.
"It's a good win, any win like that with adversity on the road is a positive thing," Hart said. "But we have to keep getting better, we'll take any win we can get."
AQUINAS 13 17 18 14 5 - 67
SALEM 21 13 10 18 10 - 72
AQUINAS SCORING: Reese Guidone 1-0-3, Will Burger 3-1-7, Anthony Mocghn 5-1-12, Sam Pusatri 4-0-9, Anthony Snyder 7-0-18, Austin Hill 5-0-14, Richard Zeren 2-0-4. TEAM TOTALS: 27, 2-6, 67
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 9-9 29, Austin Frank 0-1-1, Brendan Webb 1-0-3, Zach Economous 3-1-9, Max Wolfgang 3-0-6, Anthony Shivers 9-6-24. TEAM TOTALS: 25, 17-23, 72
THREE POINTERS: Aquinas 11 (Hill 4, Snyder 4, Pusatri, Mocghn, Guidone), Salem 5 (Bush 2, Economous 2, Webb)