WILMINGTON – When Salesianum’s basketball team suffered through a four-game losing streak late in the regular season, the last of those setbacks occurred in Georgetown, a one-point decision at Sussex Tech. The Sals made sure there would be no repeat on the evening of Feb. 28, dispatching of the Ravens, 76-47, in the second round of the DIAA boys basketball tournament.
The eighth-seeded Sals came out firing, getting eight quick points before Tech called a timeout. That did little to slow Rasheen Caulk, who scored the next four for Sallies before Ja’Shaun Johnson banked home the Ravens’ first points with 4:05 left in the quarter. Max Ferrante answered for the Sals, however, with the first of his four three-pointers on the evening, and the hosts were ahead, 19-8 after one.
Sallies senior Darnell Vaughan said the magnitude of the game was a big difference from last time against Tech, the ninth seed.
“Playoffs,” he said. “We wanted it more. We found our groove, played as a team, executed in practice, and it showed tonight.”
The lead grew to 18 at 27-9 before one of the Ravens’ top guns, Ricky Kane, scored his first point on a free throw. Kane, who missed the regular-season game, got into early foul trouble and could not get untracked on offense, finishing with six points.
With Kane spending part of the second on the bench, the Sals attacked the Ravens inside. Ferrante and Darnell Vaughan each found Jack Brown for backdoor layups. Ethan Hinds scored a field goal in close, and, with the clock running down, Vaughan took a pass from Caulk, dribbled half the length of the floor and drove the baseline for a reverse to put his team ahead, 36-21, at the break.
Vaughan said the Sals believed they would be successful inside. “We know that they like to get steals, get up and down the floor. We kept our composure, swung the ball around, attacked.”
Salesianum did not let off the gas in the second half, scoring the first seven points. The Ravens – with the raucous Sallies student section as a backdrop – gained some momentum with a six-point run, but their aggressiveness on the defensive side ended up costing them. Tech was in the penalty just 3:11 into the third, putting the Sals on the free throw line after every foul the rest of the game. Sallies made 12 of 13 attempts in the third quarter, and they followed that by hitting 10 of 14 in the fourth. They made just two field goals in the final stanza.
Vaughan led the way with 19 points, one of four Sals in double figures. The others were Ferrante (15), Brown (13) and Charles Parson (12), who made seven of eight free throw attempts in the second half. Salesianum improved to 12-9 and advances to meet top-seeded Sanford in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 6 p.m. at St. Georges Technical High School. Sanford defeated the Sals, 65-47, on Jan. 11. Vaughan said Sallies can play against the Warriors.
“We just need to come out confident, hit some shots, play great defense,” he said.
Skylar Johnson had 11 points for the Ravens, who finished the season at 15-7.
In another second-round matchup, No. 10 St. Mark’s scored a mild upset of No. 7 St. Elizabeth, 47-41. The Spartans, who are now 17-5, will meet the second seed, undefeated Dover, on Saturday at 6 at Polytech High School. St. Elizabeth, the defending state champion, finished the season 11-10.