ALLIANCE - For the Salem Quakers and head coach Rich Hart, losing three straight games to start off 2013 was never an option.
Down by nine in the third quarter, Salem answered with a run that propelled them into the lead and effectively ended their brief two-game skid with a 65-51 win over Alliance.
"You know, coach Spack brought up a great point," Hart said. "It was 29-20, at Alliance, and we could've folded right there. That was amazing. We stood our ground, Bush hit a couple threes and we made a run. That was the key to the game."
The Quakers weathered an early run and benefitted from a career-night from Anthony Shivers. Shivers recorded 27 points, surpassing his previous high of 26 which he recorded on two occasions this season.
Ryan Bush also added 22, and Max Wolfgang chipped in ten.
Salem came out in a box-and-one on the Aviators' first possession. With four Quakers at each corner of the lane, Zach Economous manned up on Alliances's J.J Kuura.
SALEM: 11 9 21 24 - 65
ALLIANCE: 14 11 9 17 - 51
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 6-8-22, Zack Wukotich 1-0-2, Brendan Webb 0-2-2, Zach Economous 0-2-2, Max Wolfgang 5-0-10, Anthony Shivers 10-7-27.
TEAM TOTALS: 22, 19-26, 65
ALLIANCE SCORING: Parrish Martin 6-0-13, Kordelle Phillips 6-0-14, Zaviay Thomas 4-1-9, Aeyron Williams 2-0-4, J.J. Kukura 4-2-11. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 3-8, 51.
THREE POINTERS: Salem 2 (Bush 2), Alliance 4 (Phillips 2, Blue, Kukura)
"Kukura was there big scorer," Hart said. "It worked, but we didn't rebound. We got sucked into far in the zone."
Salem stuck with the scheme for the majority of the first quarter. When Economous wasn't matched up on Kukura, Austin Frank was tasked with defending the Aviators' shooter.
"We made him work really hard for a half," Hart continued.
Work hard, he did. Kukura finished the evening with 11 points, and recorded just three points in the first half.
Salem's big-man duo of Wolfgang and Shivers combined for nine of the Quakers 11 first-quarter points. Salem continued to struggle rebounding early on, and one Aviator possession in the first quarter saw Alliance get five chances before converting for a basket.
"We got 39 points out of our posts, so it was a good night," Hart said. "I think 37 came from Max and Anthony, and then Wukotich added two more."
The Quakers regrouped to begin the second and were able to grab a lead just over a minute and a half into the frame on a basket from Shivers.
Salem held the Aviators to just one basket through the first four minutes of the second quarter. Settling in defensively, the Quakers switched to man-to-man which helped alleviate some of the rebounding troubles they were plagued with early.
"From that point, I think rebounding helped," Hart said. "When we go man, we don't usually give up second shots."
After a timeout from Alliance, Salem recorded just one point, a free throw from Shivers, over the final 4:03 of the quarter.
The struggles scoring the basketball allowed Alliance to go on a 6-0 run to close out the half and take a 25-20 lead into the locker room.
Salem came out and went the first minute of the second half without recording a basket, all while giving up two easy baskets to the Aviators in transition.
Hart, visibly frustrated, called a timeout to address the pressure that Alliance began to bring.
"I wanted to remind them that they are going to start pressing and we had to be prepared for that," he said. "I didn't want to lose a possession because we weren't prepared for what they were doing."
Salem responded with a pair of 3-pointers from Ryan Bush and two baskets by Shivers to spur 10-2 run to tie things at 30 with just fewer than four minutes to play.
"That was big," Hart said. "We came down and made something of that there. If you go down 11 there they are going for corners and you'll never see the ball again. That was my deepest fear, if we don't score they're going to spread us out and we won't ever touch it."
Shivers continued his contributions, and displayed his shooting ability by knocking down multiple jump shots from the free throw line to give the Quakers the lead, forcing Alliance to burn another timeout.
Alliance pulled even with baskets from Parrish Martin, but it was Shivers who keyed another run for Salem to close out the quarter with a 41-34 lead. Shivers poured in 13 of 27 in the frame.
"When you have both of those guys, Tony and Max, you have two solid posts, Hart said. "It makes things simpler both offensively and defensively. They work really well together."
Shivers and Wolfgang each also pulled down nine rebounds.
Salem connected on 19-of-26 free throws on the evening, going 12-for-15 in the fourth quarter alone to help seal the win.
After struggling from the line against Canfield, the return to form was a good sign from his team for coach Hart.
"It was never an option, if you want to win if you want to win the league you can't lose three in a row," Hart said. "It was bad enough to lose against South at home, and now we have an uphill battle."
Salem also won the jayvee game 37-35.
Mike Popa paced the Quakers with 20 points. Ryan Hoover added eight
Richard Wright and Bryce Hood each netted 11 points for Alliance.
Salem (8-2, 5-1 NBC) hosts Louisville Friday.