For The Dialog
WILMINGTON – Salesianum knew entering its second-round boys basketball state tournament game March 1 that the team would have to slow down the guards of 15th-seeded Dover. The defense was stout all night, and the Sals’ offense just did enough in a 34-30 win that advances them to the quarterfinals at the Bob Carpenter Center on Saturday.
Both teams struggled from the floor early, but a Mike Wallace layup and a Jack Brown three-pointer gave the Sals an early 7-2 lead. The Sals – seeded second in the 24-team tourney – led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter, but Eden Davis hit a pair of three-pointers to give the visitors a 10-9 lead. Wallace scored on a layup, and Paul Brown connected on a hook shot as the Sals took a 15-13 lead at the half.
The Sals’ defense was strong early in the third, leading to offense as Wallace and Darnell Vaughan scored to extend the lead to 19-13. The teams then exchanged baskets until a Paul Brown bucket gave the hosts a 23-15 advantage. Javon Peace hit a big two for the Senators as they ended the quarter on a 6-4 run to cut it to 27-21.
Wallace scored the only Salesianum field goal in the final stanza to make the score 29-24 with 5:29 left. The Sals, who hadn’t shot a free throw the whole game, went to the line 13 times in the final three minutes but only made five of them. Their defense made up for the free throw shooting, preventing Peace and Davis from getting open looks, and the Sals held on.
It may not have been pretty, but the Sals are happy to be moving on. “We are playing Saturday night and that’s the bottom line,” coach Brendan Haley said.
He also praised the defense. “We played great defense, but offensively we struggled with turnovers and missed some open looks.”
The Sals (14-6) will face seventh-seeded Sanford on Saturday night at 7:45 in a rematch of a 50-41 Sanford win on Jan. 12. Wallace talked about the Sals slow start in that game. “We can’t score 12 first-half points on Saturday. We need to be better offensively and defensively in the first half.”
Wallace and Paul Brown both scored nine points to lead the Sals. The Senators (10-12) got a game-high 13 from Davis before he fouled out with 20 seconds left.
For The Dialog