Aviators have grand time over Quakers
ALLIANCE – The Salem boys basketball team didn’t count on a rough second half against Alliance or a night in which Aviator milestones would be reached.
The Quakers kept the first half very close, but Alliance showed again why its undefeated in the NBC as the Avaitors opened up in the second half and soared to a 68-60 victory Friday night.
“Salem’s got a good team,” said J.J. Kukura, who became the all-time points leader in Alliance history last week against West Branch and led again with 34 points against the Quakers. “They’ve got great pressure, and they can play well on the boards.”
The Aviators (13-2, 10-0) took control in the second half with incredible steals and fast break offense from their all-time points-leader in J.J., and got big help from Dale Dickson, who fired it up in the third quarter, and scored 16 on the night, which gave J.J. breathing room and relief.
“That third quarter with 10 points, it took a load off me,” Kukura said. “When he gets going, he gets the team going, and the same with everyone else on the team.”
“Coach wanted us to push it in the third quarter,” Dickson said. “I just had to run the floor especially in the third quarter where I picked up my points.”
Kukura made history last week by scoring his record-setting 1,351st point for the Aviators. This week, it was Parrish Martin’s turn.
The senior hit his 1,000th career point on a free-throw in the fourth quarter and did his teammates proud as well his coach Larry Kukura.
“He’s a four-year starter for me,” Larry said. “He’s done a lot for this team. He played a lot of basketball for us. He’s scored foul shots for us, he’s played great defense. He’s done a lot for this program, and I hope he succeeds in the future.”
“I’m really proud of Parrish,” J.J. said. “All four years of high school, I’ve never seen anyone guard the ball well. He’s really quick, really fast.”
The Quakers (6-9, 5-5) played their strongest in the first half as they capitalized on missed three-pointers from Kukura, and showed strength in rebounding with Max Wolfgang, who led the Quakers with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Salem coach Rich Hart noted the improvement of the team as well as Wolfgang.
“Max has been a trooper the whole time with 24 points and 13 rebounds,” Hart said. “Andrew Dolphin made great strides as a leader and a point guard, (Mike) Ciotti off the bench had a nice game.”
Then the Aviators took over, and the Quakers fell behind to as much as 10.
“Except for a stretch in the third quarter where they got up on us a little bit, we missed two or three easy shots and made two unforced errors,” Salem coach Rich Hart said. “You can’t do that against good teams like Alliance and have an eight-point game.”
Hart acknowledged not only the foul trouble, but also trouble at the foul line (9-for-19).
“The fouls were trouble for us, but that’s the difference in the ball game,” Hart said. “They make 23 free-throws, we made only nine, and we lose by eight.”
Ciotti, who scored nine points before fouling out, knows that the team needs to improve on their shots.
“We missed a lot of easy shots which killed us,” Ciotti said. “They (Alliance) got back in early, and we just missed those easy shots.”
Dolphin, who also added 12, knew that the Quakers weren’t their strongest when Alliance got them in the press.
“They just amped up the pressure,” Dolphin said. “We were turning over the ball a lot more, we weren’t pushing for those shots like we should.”
More work will be needed for the Quakers as they battle Marlington
in NBC action on Tuesday.
“We just need to keep improving,” Dolphin said. “We’re gonna keep working to try to get a better seed in the playoffs.”
Alliance also won the junior varsity game 45-40. Bryce Hood led the Aviators with 14 points, while Brandon Weikart scored 15 for the Quakers.
-J.J. Kukura was honored during a pre-game ceremony as the all-time points leader for Alliance, which he achieved surpassing Chester Martin last Friday against West Branch. His current point total is 1,385.
-Parrish Martin became the fifth Aviator to score his 1,000th career point.
SALEM SCORING: D.J. Pullie 0-0-0, Mark Frederickson 1-0-2, Jake Bezon 0-0-0, Alex Weikart 0-0-0, Andrew Dolphin 4-2-12, Mike Ciotti 4-0-9, Mike Popa 0-0-0, Ryan Hoover 5-3-13, Carter Rose 0-0-0, Max Wolfgang 9-4-24. TEAM TOTALS: 23, 9-19: 60.
ALLIANCE SCORING: Dale Dickson 6-4-16, Parrish Martin 3-2-9, Kordelle Phillips 1-2-5, Jairon Brackett 1-2-4, Bryce Hood 0-0-0, Josh Hammerton 0-0-0, J.J. Kukura 10-13-34, Aeyron Williams 0-0-0, Mike Williams 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 23-28: 68.
Three-point goals: Salem 5 (Dolphin 2, Wolfgang 2, Ciotti), Alliance 3 (Martin, Phillips, Kukura).