BOARDMAN - Salem coach Rich Hart had a decision to make in the waning seconds of the Quakers 54-52 victory over fifth-seeded Ravenna Southeast Wednesday night in the Division II district semifinals: give Southeast a chance to make a three and tie the game or foul and force them to the free throw line.
"The way that they shooting the ball, we weren't going to give them a chance," Hart said. "They are going to have to make two shots because we weren't going to overtime."
His decision paid off as Mike Madison fouled Corey Proctor with 1.1 seconds to play, sending him to the free throw line for two shots. Proctor connected on the first, but intentionally missed the second and the rebound fell to Salem's Max Wolfgang.
"We weren't going to let them get the rebound," Wolfgang said. "We were going to come down with it or tip it away so they wouldn't get a chance."
Their win gives the Quakers a return trip to the district finals for the first time since 2006, but their road to get there has had its' share of adversity.
"(Saturday) is just another game," Wolfgang said. "We need to come out and get out of this district."
SALEM: 12-12-16-14 - 54
SOUTHEAST: 16-13-9-14 - 52
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 5-0-11, Austin Frank 0-0-0, Mike Madison 0-0-0, Zack Wukotich 1-0-2, Brendan Webb 1-2-4, Zach Economous 1-0-3, Max Wolfgang 7-4-18, Anthony Shivers 5-6-16. TOTALS: 20, 12-17: 54
SOUTHEAST SCORING: Corey Proctor 0-1-1, Nate Simyak 3-0-9, Jordan Krych 4-4-12, Lucas Bloom 3-2-11, Trevor Norquest 4-5-15, Kade Norquest 0-0-0, Dakota Laporta 2-0-4. TOTALS: 16, 12-14: 52
Three-pointers: Salem 2 (Bush, Economous), Southeast 8 (Simyak 3, Bloom 3, Norquest 2).
Wolfgang led all scorers with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Shivers added 16 points.
The Pirates (14-9) picked up right where they left off in their upset victory over Niles, by connecting on four of their first five three-point attempts to jump out to an early double-digit lead. The Quakers (19-6) found themselves down by 12 before taking a timeout to regroup.
"That was difficult, we knew we have been down before and come out on top," Salem senior Anthony Shivers said. "And we knew we had to do that one basket at a time you can't get 12 points back all at once, so that was the mindset that we had coming-out of that time out."
Salem awoke following the timeout and cut the Pirate lead to just four to close out the frame. Southeast didn't score the rest of the quarter.
"We got it to about six pretty quickly, and then they made another long surge in hit a couple threes," Hart said. "I thought if we just stayed within five, we would be okay in the second half."
The two teams traded baskets in the second quarter as the Quakers went into the break precisely where Hart wanted, trailing by five at 29-24. The Pirates cooled considerably as the game wore on, after finishing the first half with six three-pointers, Southeast finished with just eight.
"We knew that they could shoot it we just didn't get out early enough there at the beginning," Hart said. "We did a great job in the second on limiting them from three in the second half."
Shivers gave the Quakers their first lead of the game with 4:19 to play in the third quarter on a jumper from 17 feet.
Southeast tied the game back up just two minutes later on a three-point play by Trevor Norquest, but that tie didn't last long. Wolfgang reclaimed the lead for Salem with a basket on the Quakers very next possession.
"Max Wolfgang was huge tonight," Shivers said. "He was outstanding all night scoring and rebounding and hitting all of those free throws."
The Pirates' sunk three's to put the Pirates up by one midway through the frame and another to bring them within one with just a minute and a half to play.
His last gasp came with 4.2 seconds on the clock, but he was unable to connect.
"We have said all year for us to be competitive and win basketball games we have to make shots for four quarters," Southeast coach Matthew Dillon said. "We needed to be a little bit more consistent late we were one or two shots away."
Salem will take on Youngstown Mooney on at 6 p.m. Saturday in the district final at Boardman High School.
"We have to play better then we played tonight," Hart said. "We can't make the mistakes that we did, and if we get the easy shots we have to finish."
NOTES: Salem coaches Rich Hart, George Spack, Andy Smyczynski and Jake Zatchok were each wearing an orange ribbon in memory of Salem junior Brittany Gulu, who was killed in a car accident on Sunday evening. A moment of silence was also observed.
-Southeast's Nate Simyak was forced to remove his number 10 jersey in the second quarter due to blood on the jersey. He wore Robert Wilson's number 23 for the remainder of the first half, but returned to wearing number 10 in the second half after the jersey was cleaned.
-Following the game, Hart was proud to see the support from the community and the Salem students.
"The Crazies, they were great again for us tonight," Hart said. "They've been fantastic for us all year and it's great to see the turnout we have received so far."
-Salem is 1-1 in games decided by two points or less this season.
-Mooney defeated East Liverpool, 47-40, on Jan. 4. Salem won at East Liverpool, 69-54, on Dec. 18.
-The Quakers have won six straight games, holding opponents to 46.2 points a game along the way.
-The Quakers are 2-1 on Saturdays this season.