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Quakers close out Marlington to pull even in Eastern Buckeye Conference

ALLIANCE — Salem came out laser-focused and looking like a team on a mission during its crucial Eastern Buckeye Conference girls basketball rematch at Marlington Wednesday night.

Stamp it mission accomplished — Salem 40, Marlington 31.

“We did a great job, we used 10 girls and we really turned it up a notch and I’m really proud of the entire team,” said Salem coach Sarah Hamilton. “Everyone stepped up and we have a great bench with a great future ahead of us.”

The Quakers combined an absolutely smothering defensive performance against the Dukes along with a balanced and opportunistic offensive attack to gain the key league road win.

Salem’s triumph also throws the Eastern Buckeye Conference title race into a dead heat. The league-leading Quakers and Dukes are now 9-2 each in the league. Wednesday’s win by Salem forces both schools to play one remaining league makeup game against a one-win Alliance team. The heavily-favored Quakers (13-5 overall) and Dukes (16-3 overall) will have to fit that makeup game in around their upcoming tournament schedules.

The Quakers completed a season sweep of state-ranked Marlington as Salem defeated the Dukes 45-37 in an earlier meeting in Salem.

“It (was like deja vu,” said Marlington coach Mike Stadulis. “Salem plays very aggressive and when (the officials) are not calling it tight, they are a very good team and they’ve had a great season, too.”

Leading Salem’s well-balanced offense was sophomore guard Abbie Davidson, who took scoring honors with 12 points, including one of the Quakers’ four three-pointers.

“We had a little knockdown in the season, so it feels great to be back up,” said Abbie Davidson. “I knew we had confidence coming into this and it (the key league win) just feels great.”

The Quakers added key offensive contributions from Annie Davidson (eight points) and guards Casey Johnson and Jenna McClish (five points each) and Kyla Jamison (four points).

“(Abbie Davidson) played solid,” praised Hamilton. “She just did a great job all-around.”

Meanwhile, Salem’s defense swarmed around the Marlington offense, both from the perimeter and underneath, while forcing 22 Marlington turnovers. The Quakers held the Dukes’ dangerous outside shooters to a single three-pointer , while also jamming the middle against Marlington’s tall and talented duo of 6-0 Allison Lacher and 5-10 Chelsea Evanich.

“It was take your pick (on defensive standouts for the game),” said Hamilton. “They all did a great job rotating and we created countless turnovers. We were definitely able to use our pressure and depth and it definitely worked for us tonight.”

“We fought and every time we had a good stop we just turned it right back over,” said Stadulis.

“That was just the moral of the story — they were very aggressive on the rebounds, so hats off to them for getting back in it (the league title race).”

Marlington, which could never settle into any offensive rhythm against the Quakers, had no players reach double figures. Guard Maria Warner and Lacher led Marlington with nine points each and Evanich had six.

“We knew from the last game against them that pressure is want we needed,” said Abbie Davidson. “I was texting coach earlier in the day today and we were talking about our run and jump, our trap defense, and how they (the Dukes) couldn’t handle the pressure and we just knew coming out we were going to start off strong.”

After spotting Marlington a 9-7 lead after one, Salem went on a 12-2 run to start the second quarter and took as much as an eight-point lead (19-11) after Jamison hit a free throw with 2:49 showing before intermission. Salem held the Dukes to just four points in the second quarter and took a 19-13 lead at the break.

Marlington pulled within four points (26-22) after three but the Quakers outscored the hosts 14-9 in the fourth quarter and took as much as a 12-point (36-24) lead following a layup by Abbie Davidson with 3:46 left. Salem then went to a deliberate style of offense to burn clock in the closing minutes and closed out the key nine-point win.

“It’s so nice to see them playing the way they can play again,” said Hamilton. “We were playing confident and not rushing shots. It couldn’t come at a better time going into the tournament.”

“We’re just going to keep building and we know what we have to work on,” said Stadulis. “It’s not like we haven’t worked on it, we’re just going to keep trying.”

There was no junior varsity game.

The fourth-seeded Quakers will host Streetsboro in a Division II sectional championship game Saturday at 1 p.m.

“I think we’re in a good place and ready to go and ready to turn it up,” said Hamilton of the tournament trail. “We’re looking forward to getting into the tournament.”

SALEM: 7-12-7-14-40

MARLINGTON: 9- 4- 9- 9–31

SALEM SCORING: Kami Rohm 0-0-0, Casey Johnson 2-0-5, Abby Perry 0-0-0, Rylee Hutton 0-0-0, Annie Davidson 3-1-8, Jenna McClish 2-1-5, Abbie Davidson 4-3-12, Alivia Davidson-Chuck 1-1-3, Krista Barley1-0-3, Kyla Jamison 1-2-4. TEAM TOTALS: 14, 8-14: 40.

MARLINGTON SCORING: Maria Warner 4-1-9, Chelsea Evanich 2-2-6, Allison Lacher 4-0-9, Mary Mason 1-2-4, Elizabeth Mason 1-1-3, Lexi Miller 0-0-0, Kenna McElroy 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 12, 6-10 31.

Three-point goals: Salem 4 (Casey Johnson, Annie Davidson, Abbie Davidson, Krista Barley), Marlington 1 (Allison Lacher).

Total fouls: Salem 13, Marlington 13. Fouled out: none.

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