WILMINGTON – Salesianum saw an 11-point halftime lead disappear, but they rallied from a late deficit to take a 52-50 win over St. Elizabeth on Jan. 5 at the St. E Center. The outcome wasn’t decided until a last-second attempt by the Vikings bounced off the glass and rim.
The Sals raced to a 30-19 lead at the half thanks to strong field-goal shooting in each of the first two periods. Max Ferrante scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half, including a three-point shot in each quarter. St. Elizabeth, meanwhile, scored many of its points inside, but they struggled from the free throw line, making just five of 12 in the half.
The Vikings, however, began the climb back into the game in the third quarter, but not before the Sals extended the lead to 13 on a driving layup by Rasheen Caulk. Nasir Brown answered Caulk with a quick layup of his own, a bucket that would get Brown untracked. The Vikings cut three more points off the deficit on a Justin Money shot, and the teams were off and running.
Salesianum restored the 10-point lead at 36-26, but Jaden Dickerson hit a three for the Vikings. Brown made two free throws, with Caulk picking up his third foul and heading to the bench. On the next trip down the floor, Brown rebounded his own blocked shot and sunk a short field goal, cutting the Sals’ lead to 36-33. Out of a Sallies timeout, Brown picked up another defensive board, dribbled to the opposite free throw line and drained a mid-range jumper. Ethan Hinds got open underneath for a lay-in to end the St. Elizabeth run at nine points.
Salesianum took the 40-39 lead into the final stanza, but the Vikings took their first lead of the night when Dickerson’s follow-up of a miss went through the hoop. Darnell Vaughan answered for Sallies, but the Vikings went back on top when Money made two free throws. Brown hit two more from the charity stripe to extend the Vikings’ lead to three, 45-42, but the Sals answered. That coincided with the return of Caulk to the floor with about 6:30 to go in the game.
Vaughan went strong to the hoop for two, and Caulk made two free throws. The teams spent a few minutes scoreless, but Vaughan drove again to put the visitors ahead, 48-45, with 2:20 left. Salesianum made four free throws in the last two minutes for their final points, but a missed free throw and a few critical turnovers kept St. Elizabeth within striking distance.
Trailing 51-47, Brown nailed a three-pointer. The Sals made one of two free throws, giving the Vikings life and one final chance. Brown took an inbounds pass with 4.5 seconds to go, ducked between two Sals defenders and launched an off-balance three-point attempt that nearly went in off the glass.
As strong as St. Elizabeth was in the second half, Salesianum was on point in the first. They rode hot shooting to the big halftime advantage. Ferrante connected from distance twice on his way to 10 points in the half, and Vaughan was strong inside and out. He also had 10 in the opening two quarters. Caulk contributed on both ends of the court.
For the Sals, Vaughan led the way with 18 points, while Ferrante and Caulk each closed with 12. Sallies improved to 5-2; they continue a five-game road trip on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Howard before traveling to No. 1 Sanford on Friday night.
Brown led the Vikings with 18. He was joined in double figures by Dickerson with 12 and Money with 11. St. Elizabeth (3-5) takes on Sussex Central on the road Tuesday beginning at 6:15 p.m., then visits St. Mark’s on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.