Quakers take full advantage
SALEM — The Salem girls basketball team is playing like it doesn’t want its season to end any time soon.
Behind a feisty defense and a balanced scoring effort, the Quakers closed out the regular season with one of their most impressive games, defeating Lisbon 56-39 on senior night Wednesday at Cabas Gymnasium.
Allee Davidson-Chuck paced the Quakers with 12 points, five assists and three steals. It was Salem’s second straight win since losing star forward Chloe Cheresne to a torn ACL last week.
“With Chloe being out, it was kind of sad that we couldn’t share this with her out on the floor, but I’m very proud of how everyone stepped up tonight,” Davidson-Chuck said. “It was a total team effort.”
Senior forward Helene Shontz added 10 points and nine rebounds while serving as a steady defensive presence down low.
Salem closes the regular season 11-11 overall. Lisbon drops to 17-5.
Six different players scored at least six points for the Quakers, who shot 57 percent from the floor.
“We definitely played team basketball tonight,” Shontz said. “Everyone is starting to get used to their roles. As a team, we’re really starting to grow.”
The Salem defense asserted itself right from the start, as the Quakers forced a slew of Lisbon turnovers in the first quarter on the way to an 11-4 lead. Freshmen Elly Exline (eight points, four steals) and Hayden Carner (six points) helped get Salem going with four points each in the opening frame.
“When we took the floor against United Monday, we were struggling to find out who we were,” Salem coach Vince Nittoli said. “I don’t know what happened in that day-and-a-half, but I think the excitement of senior night got us going early and we were able to sustain it for four quarters. Our young players are really starting to mature.”
A Shontz putback and two Davidson-Chuck threes helped the Quakers stretch their advantage to 27-11 late in the second quarter. The Quakers used their size and length was able to successfully clog up the Lisbon offense. The Blue Devils were held to just six field goals in the first half.
“We knew that they were going to apply full-court pressure, and I just didn’t want to get in a running game with them,” Nittoli said. “We wanted to focus on our size and try to make them work around us.”
Lisbon was dealt a big blow in the second quarter when their best inside player, Mackenzie Mason, was forced to leave the game due to an illness. Blue Devils’ coach Jamie Entrikin said a good portion of the team has been feeling under the weather this week.
“The whole team has been fighting the flu, we’ve had girls in and out of practice all week,” Entrikin said. “Not that that’s an excuse. We didn’t play anywhere near our potential.”
Senior Karlee Pezzano was the only Lisbon player in double figures with 19 points. As a team, the Blue Devils shot 14-for-36 for 39 percent.
“We didn’t attack the way we needed to as far as penetrating the gaps,” Entrikin said. “But Salem is a strong and physical team. It’s good for us to play against a team like that going into the tournament. We shoot OK, but we don’t shoot the ball enough to stretch them out. That’s the biggest thing we need to work on.”
Lisbon went into halftime trailing 27-18 and hung around for most of the second half, but weren’t able to get closer than eight points.
Freshman forward Echo Mayer-Kutz gave the Quakers some big minutes in the fourth quarter and finished with nine points and four rebounds. Sophomore Jessica Slocum added six points, while sophomore Ellie Davidson grabbed eight rebounds and came up with five steals.
“Our freshmen and sophomores are fearless,” Nittoli said. “They love the game, they play hard and they don’t shy away from moments. This is great for our program that these young players are stepping in and making plays.”
The Quakers will try keep their season going when they travel to Lakeview at 1 p.m. Saturday for a Division II sectional opener.
“They don’t want this to end,” Nittoli said. “We’re playing hard and we’re all having a good time together.”
¯The Quakers honored seniors Cheresne, Shontz, Katie Moore and Leah Menegos before the game. Moore, who normally comes off the bench, opened the game in the starting lineup.
“Katie showed great hustle out there, Leah played hard on defense, Helene got after it on the boards and Chloe was a great vocal leader on the bench,” Nittoli said.
¯Former Quakers’ star Debbie Janofa-Price was also on hand to present Cheresne with the game ball for breaking her single-game scoring record two weeks ago against Alliance. Cheresne’s 38 points topped Janofa’s mark of 37 set in 1983.
¯Lisbon gets a week to rest and recover before beginning Division III sectional play at home against United next Wednesday.
¯Salem won the jayvee game 62-21. Jaden Hamilton led the Quakers with 14 points. Cadee Johnson led the Blue Devils with 10 points.
LISBON SCORING: Izzy Perez 1-0-3, Karlee Pezzano 7-2-19, Autumn Oehlstrom 0-0-0, Alexa Bell 1-0-2, Mackenzie Mason 1-0-2, Chloe Smith 2-1-5, Maddie Liberati 0-4-4, Alli Davis 2-0-4. TEAM TOTALS: 14, 7-17: 39.
SALEM SCORING: Elly Exline 2-4-8, Allee Davidson-Chuck 3-4-12, Leah Menegos 0-1-1, Katie Moore 0-0-0, Helene Shontz 5-0-10, Ellie Davidson 2-0-4, Echo Mayer-Kutz 3-3-9, Hayden Carner 2-2-6, Jessica Slocum 2-1-6. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 15-28: 56.
Three-point goals: Lisbon 4 (Pezzano 3, Perez), Salem 3 (Davidson-Chuck 2, Slocum).