CLAYMONT – After falling behind Salesianum, 49-36, at the end of the third quarter Tuesday night at the Moglia Fieldhouse, the homestanding Archmere Auks decided it was time to make their move. The Auks used a three-point shot by sophomore Andrew Pinto, a host of free throws and some effective pressure defense to steadily cut into the lead. When senior Peyton Heck swished a three-pointer midway through the fourth to make the score 54-47, Salesianum coach Brendan Haley had seen enough and called a timeout.
Whatever Haley said had the desired effect. On the Sals’ next possession, senior guard Donte DiVincenzo took the ball on the Sals’ next possession, saw a lane and drove to the hoop for an impressive stuff, and Salesianum went on to a 66-52 win that was closer than the final score might indicate.
DiVincenzo opened the scoring with a three-pointer, and freshman forward Jamal Whittlesey followed with a nice pump fake and a layup. It appeared the Sals might put the game out of reach early. But it was the Auks who showed more energy and resilience in the first period as they outhustled and outrebounded the defending state champions.
Meanwhile, Salesianum held Archmere off the scoreboard for more than four minutes until senior Nick Udovich hit a baseline jumper. The Auks, to the delight of the large crowd that showed up on a cold, snowy night, held a 10-7 lead after one.
Archmere coach William Ludlow pulled three starters out of the game 22 seconds into the second quarter, and an 11-7 Auks lead quickly disappeared. The Sals scored 11 consecutive points before the three Archmere starters returned nearly four minutes later. Auks junior forward John Vaile then scored five straight points to cut the Sals’ advantage to 18-16, but that was as close as Archmere would get the rest of the game.
Salesianum took a 26-21 lead into the break, with three of the points coming on some wild acrobatics from junior Luke Bianchino. Driving the right side of the key, Bianchino went up for a layup, was fouled and shot as he landed hard on his back side while sliding across the baseline. The shot went in, and Bianchino completed the three-point play with the free throw.
Whittlesey continued to impress as he transitions from football to basketball shape. The 6-5, 300-lb. forward scored a game-high 15 points, hitting six field goals inside, including one on a turnaround jumper after using his size to back his man into the lane. He was joined in double figures by DiVincenzo, with 14, and senior guard Shane Clark, who added 11. Nine players scored for Salesianum. The Sals, who won their second straight and improved to 3-5, face a stiff test Friday night when St. Elizabeth visits 18th and Broom for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
Junior Nick Udovich led the Auks with 14 points, including two three-pointers. Heck finished with 11, with nine coming on three-point shots. Nine Auks got on the score sheet. Archmere (2-7) will host Delaware Military Academy on Friday night at 6:15 p.m.