Young Quakers still learning
SALEM — Youthful Salem, which is playing with five new starters in its boys’ basketball lineup this season, ran into Eastern Buckeye Conference defending champion and preseason favorite Alliance Friday evening and dropped a 70-48 decision to the veteran Aviators in Cabas Gymnasium.
“Physically they just got us,” said Salem head coach Jeff Andres of Alliance’s veteran squad. “Coming into the league season we knew we were going to take a few on the chin. Coming in, who is the league favorite? Alliance is certainly in the conversation, no doubt about it,” added Andres.
With the setback, Salem is now 0-3 on the season and 0-2 in the EBC, while Alliance, playing without injured starter Brandon Alexander, is 1-2 overall and 1-1 in the league.
“We needed to get a win and our kids played hard,” said Alliance head coach Larry Kukura. “They were hungry tonight to get a win and our seniors stepped up and played well. And we’re missing two of our top six players (because of injuries).”
The Quakers stayed with Alliance in the first quarter, trailing just 20-14 after one period, but Alliance began to get its high-octane offense in gear in the second period and went on to post second and third-quarter stop leads of 35-21 and 64-33 on its way to its first win.
“I liked the energy and the effort from our guys tonight,” added Kukura.
Leading Salem in the scoring column was Jaren Snyder with 11 points, while teammates Hunter Griffith and Drew Weir added eight points each and senior Kaden Russell added six markers on a pair of three-pointers. Salem had seven treys as a team.
Alliance’s Trevor Strata was the Aviators’ offensive catalyst, taking game scoring honors with 28 points, while Gus Jackson finished with 14 and Jeff Talbert and Nick Oldfield had 10 points each.
“I thought Gus Jackson played a really good game and Jeff (Talbert) played real well defensively and Nick (Oldfield) did a good job in the paint,” praised Kukura. “The seniors all did a good job tonight.”
Holding as much as a 31-point lead, Kukura went to a spread offense for much of the final period and the Quakers, who saw nine players dent the scoring column, clawed back to whittle the final deficit to 22 points.
Andres knows it will be a growing process with a young Salem club.
“They (the Aviators) have five seniors on the floor and we have five sophomores, but the kids played hard and we’re going to try point out the things that we’ve done well and try and fix some of the things we’re not doing well right now,” explained the Salem coach.
“Hopefully, we’ll get better tomorrow. It’s a process, and one of these days, it’s going to be fun when we put it all together.”
Alliance also held a 34-22 advantage on the boards, as Talbert and Johnson led the Aviators with 10 and eight rebounds, respectively.
Griffith paced the Quakers with five caroms.
“We’re going to continue to build and one of these nights it’s going to be our night,” said Andres.
¯The Quakers won the junior varsity game, 65-57. Dylan Monroy led Salem for the second straight game with 16 points.
Salem returns to action Tuesday evening when the Quakers host the Columbiana Clippers in an independent contest.
“They (the Clippers) are another team with a lot of seniors back,” said Andres. “Two years ago they were in our (youthful) position, they were playing some sophomores and taking some on the chin and now those guys are seniors, but I have full confidence our guys will come ready to play.”
SALEM SCORING: Hunter Griffith 4-1-3-8, Sam Walter 0-0-0-0, Brock Young 0-1-2-1, Landon Cooper 0-0-0-0, Kaleb Caldwell 0-0-0-0, Logan Blissenbach 0-0-0-0, Drew Weir 3-0-0-8, Davin Koskinen 1-0-0-2, Kaden Russell 2-0-0-6, Jon Null 2-1-2-5, Dylan Monroy 1-0-0-2, Jaren Snyder 4-2-3-11, Caden Rohm 1-0-0-3. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 5-10: 48.
ALLIANCE SCORING: Gage Ford 0-0-0-0, Ty Young 0-0-0-0, Cassius Gaffney 4-0-0-8, Terrence West 0-0-0-0. Jeff Talbert 5-0-1-10, Gus Jackson 6-1-2-14, Bradyn Hartsoe 0-0-0-0, Trevor Strata 9-8-9-28, Nick Oldfield 3-4-6-10. TEAM TOTALS: 27, 13-19: 70.
3 point goals: Alliance 3 (Trevor Strata 2, Gus Jackson 1). Salem 7 (Drew Weir 2, Kaden Russell 2, Jaren Snyder 1, Hunter Griffith 1, Caden Rohm). Total fouls: Salem 16, Alliance 13. Fouled out: none.