EAST LIVERPOOL - Fans of the Potters are used to seeing standout performances take place inside the friendly confines of Potter Fieldhouse.
What made Tuesday night's performance different was that it was delivered by a Quaker and not a Potter. Ryan Bush scored a career-high 38 points leading the Salem boys' basketball team to a 69-54 victory over East Liverpool.
With the win, the Quakers remain perfect on the season at 5-0. The loss drops the Potters to 2-7. East Liverpool has lost its last two games after recording a two-game winning streak.
East Liverpool’s Kade Reynolds looks to pass as Salem’s Ryan Bush defends on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Joe Savage)
"He made some big 3s when we needed it," Salem head coach Rich Hart said about Bush's performance. "He answered the bell for us. He was hot tonight. He hit some big shots for us.
"He set a new-career high tonight. His old career high was 31 points. That's big. I didn't know he scored that much. I knew he had a lot, but not that much."
Bush had a chance to score 40, but his shot in the final seconds of the game bounced off of the backboard.
Salem 69, East Liverpool 54
SA 17-16-21-15 - 69
EL 09-12-19-14 - 54
SA (69): Ryan Bush 14 5-6 38, Frank Austin 0 0-0 0, Mike Madison 0 0-0 0, Zack Wukotich 2 2-3 6, Brendan Webb 3 0-0 7, Zach Economis 1 0-0 3, Max Wolfgang 3 1-4 7, Anthony Shivers 3 2-4 8. Totals: 26 10-17 69.
EL (54): D.J. Austin 2 0-0 5, Hayden Cunningham 5 5-7 17, Kade Reynolds 0 2-4 2, Austin Emmerling 1 0-0 2, Derek Thompson 5 5-5 15, Owen Crawford 1 2-2 5, John Rickerd 0 0-0 0, Rian Burson 2 0-0 4, Aaron Long 2 0-0 4.Totals: 18 14-18 54.
3-Pointers: Salem: 7 (Bush 5, Webb, Economis); East Liverpool: 4 (Cunningham 2, Austin, Crawford)
"They are a good ball team," East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley said. "They are a senior-heavy team.
"Bush was hot for them. He almost got 40 points. He missed that shot at the end. That was a good game for him."
The Quakers led by as many as 18 points in the game en route to avenging last season's loss at Salem.
"We have good kids," Hart said. "They play hard. Most of them have played for three years. It is a combination of a lot of things. We have a good amount of experience. We have gotten off to a good start."
Bush, who finished the game with five 3-pointers and three dunks, was the lone Quaker to score in double digits in the game. Anthony Shivers scored eight points, Brendan Webb and Max Wolfgang each netted seven points and Zach Wukotich chipped in with six points. Zach Economis rounded out the scoring for the Quakers with three points.
Two players scored in double digits for the Potters. Hayden Cunningham contributed a team-high 17 points, and Derek Thompson tallied 15 points.
Also for East Liverpool, D.J. Austin and Owen Crawford each collected five points, Rian Burson and Aaron Long each netted four points and Kade Reynolds and Austin Emmerling each finished with two points.
East Liverpool outrebounded Salem, 35-27. Burson pulled down eight rebounds for the Potters. Bush and Shivers each grabbed seven rebounds for the Quakers.
The Potters committed 15 turnovers in the game. Ten of the 15 came in the first half. The Quakers committed 10 turnovers. Six of the 10 came in the second half.
The Quakers got off to a fast start to the game enabling Salem to lead almost from start to finish. The beginning of the game was just a sign of what was to come the rest of the way. Bush opened the game with a rare four-point play, and he followed that up with another bucket to make the score 6-0.
The Potters battled back, and a 3-pointer by Cunningham pulled East Liverpool to with 10-9. Salem responded to score the final seven points of the quarter giving the Quakers a 17-9 advantage after the first quarter.
The Potters got hot and battled back early in the second stanza. East Liverpool scored the first eight points of the frame to tie the score at 17, forcing Hart to call a timeout with 4:55 showing on the clock.
The rest of the quarter and the rest of the game belonged to the Quakers. Salem responded with a 16-2 spurt to go up 33-19. The visitors led 33-19 at halftime.
"They are the better basketball team," Conley said. "They don't do anything special in that run. They are the better team.
"We need to humble ourselves. We are not a very-good basketball team right now. We have a lot of talent, but we are not a good team right now."
The Quakers extended their lead in the third quarter. A basket by Bush put Salem up 42-25 forcing Conley to call a timeout with 5:19 left to play in the quarter. At that point, Bush had scored as many points as the Potters.
The Potters were down, but they were not out. East Liverpool scored nine quick points on 3-pointers by Cunningham and Austin, and Thompson converted a three-point play to pull the hosts to within 44-34 with 3:30 showing on the clock.
The Potters had the momentum, but it did not last long. A 3-pointer by Bush made the score 49-34, and Salem led 54-40 after three quarters of play.
"East Liverpool had two or three runs in the game, and we showed a lot of character," hart said. "We battled back. We had to deal with some adversity because of foul trouble, but we were able to overcome it.
"We answered their runs. We came up big after their runs. I am proud of the kids. They did a good job."
In the fourth quarter, the Potters got as close as 10 points (54-44) before the Quakers built the lead back up. Salem eventually led 65-47 following a pair of free throws by Bush.
East Liverpool won the JV game, 57-44. Three players scored in double digits to lead the way for the Potters. Zack Adkins scored a game-high 17 points, and Chris Mackey and Joey Bickerton each netted 10. Ryan Hoover recorded 12 points to lead the way for the Quakers.
Salem's next game is Friday at Minerva. While the Quakers will be back in action this week against the Lions, the Potters will have more than a week off before participating in the team's annual holiday tournament.
"We have played nine games so far," Conley said. "We haven't had time to practice."
The tournament will get underway at 6 p.m. Dec. 27 as Linlsy faces off against Youngstown Ursuline. East Liverpool plays in the nightcap against Berkshire. The consolation final is at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 with the tournament final to follow.
"The time off will be good for us," Conley said. "We haven't had time to practice. It will be good for us. We will be able to sit down and watch some film. We will be able to practice without having to prepare for another team. We will be able to focus on ourselves first."