WILMINGTON — Playing just their second home game of the season, the Salesianum basketball team came out knowing it would get a battle from visiting William Penn. In fact, the Colonials led for most of the first two and a half quarters before the Sals roared back for a 64-55 win on Jan. 12 at Father Birkenheuer Gymnasium.
The game was a rematch of the boys’ state championship matchup from last March, and it was nearly as intense and close. Neither team could get much going offensively, however, and the Colonials carried a 10-8 lead into the second.
Salesianum took its first lead after R.J. Johnson spun his way into a baseline layup, and Justin Hinds followed with a three-pointer that put the Sals on top, 13-12. William Penn’s Jaylin Horsey answered that three with a long three of his own, sparking a 7-0 Colonials run before Kareem Thomas hit a triple for the Sals.
Emmanuel Vonhm was particularly effective for the Colonials in the second, scoring seven points inside and from the mid-range, while adding his normal complement of rebounds. Thomas helped keep Salesianum close with a pair of threes, but Penn had a 29-23 lead at the break.
The Sals came out after halftime playing a different tune. They were all over the court on both ends of the ball, and shots they weren’t making in the first began to fall. Thomas had five early points, but the quarter belonged to senior Isaiah Hynson.
He hit a three-point shot that tied the game at 31, although the Colonials recaptured the lead on a drive from Mahari Campbell.
Penn had a 38-33 lead with Hynson tied the game again, this time on a twisting layup, and Johnson put the Sals on top with a free throw at the 2:45 mark. Their lead was three heading into the fourth.
Thomas scored the first bucket of the fourth, taking a pass after a steal and turning it into a driving two-handed dunk that electrified the sellout crowd. But William Penn was not fazed. The Colonials cut it to 47-46 on a Jah-Ri Coles follow shot, and a baseline mid-range jumper for Vonhm put the ahead by a point. It was a 6-0 run for Penn, prompting a Salesianum timeout with 6:32 remaining in the contest.
Thomas flipped the lead back to the Sals with a jumper, and Hynson continued his torrid second half with a bucket. Hynson and Thomas then teamed up on a give-and-go, with Thomas finishing to cap a 6-0 Sals run. It was the Colonials’ turn for a timeout.
Johnson contributed a key offensive rebound and two free throws as the Colonails fought back, and the Sals held off the Colonials’ comeback attempts.
Thomas and Hynson each had 21 points, with 19 of Hynson’s coming in the second half. Johnson scored 11. Salesianum improved to 5-5 and will stay at home for a game Tuesday night at 7:30 against Howard.
Vonhm led all scorers with 24 points, with Horsey joining him in double figures with 11. The Colonials (4-3) play just their third home game of the season on Tuesday, when Hodgson visits for a 5:15 p.m. start.
Photos by Mike Lang.