NEW CASTLE — Salesianum worked its way back from an 18-point second-half deficit on Dec. 5 at William Penn, but the Colonials, ranked third by 302Sports.com, got a late free throw from Brycen Boone, then a last-second block to edge the sixth-ranked Sals, 63-62. It was the season opener for both teams.
The teams have a tradition of playing close games to open the season, and this was no different. But for three quarters, it didn’t appear that this one would live up to the others as Penn spent the night either draining three-pointers or finding room inside for easy field goals. They also managed to avoid turnovers, and they prevented the Sals from getting multiple opportunities on offense.
A three-point shot from Tommy Montooth brought the Sals to within six at 34-28, but Isaac Brady answered immediately with a triple of his own. Brady then hustled back and drew a charge, and the Colonials went on to score 11 of the next 13 points, extending the lead to 48-30 on a floater by Boone with 3:02 left in the third. That run included Julian DeJesus’ fifth three-pointer of the night.
The comeback began with three free throws for Charles Parson. A few possessions later, Justin Molen scored on a layup while being fouled, and he completed the three-point play. The Sals combined pressure defense, a few stops on the defensive end, and two more Montooth threes to cut the deficit to 51-43 heading into the final eight minutes.
The Colonials managed to add four points to that advantage, going ahead, 58-46, after a pair of Isaac Brady free throws, then a steal and coast-to-coast layup by Mekhi Jones-Kent with just 4:28 to go. Sallies cut three points off the lead on a free throw from Caulk, then a short field goal by Molen. Molen was fouled and missed the free throw, but Ethan Hinds snagged the rebound and passed to Montooth two feet outside the three-point arc. Montooth banked in a triple, and the Sals were back within six with 3:51 on the clock.
The Colonials got two free throws from Brady with 2:57 to go to make it 62-54, but those were Penn’s final points until the game winner.
Caulk stole and inbounds pass and turned that into an old-fashioned three-point play. After an offensive foul on the Colonials, Molen swished a three. Another errant inbounds pass ended up in Molen’s hands, and he tied the score with two successful free throws. Neither team was able to score until the final seconds, when Boone was fouled with 4.2 to go.
Salesianum inbounded the ball with 1.9 to go, with Montooth taking possession at the midcourt line. William Penn’s Brandon Ash jumped and rejected Montooth’s shot, and the Colonials were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The first half belonged to the home team. William Penn held an 18-11 lead after the opening eight minutes, thanks in part to four three-pointers. The Colonials seemingly did not miss in the first half, picking up two more threes in the second to go along with their points in the paint. DeJesus was deadly in the first half, making four of those three-pointers on his way to 14 points.
Brady scored 22 for William Penn, including nine free throws on 10 attempts. DeJesus had 17. The Colonials (1-0) are off for a week before hosting Blue Hen Conference Flight A foe Appoquinimink on Dec. 12 at 5:15 p.m.
For the Sals (0-1), Caulk had a team-high 20. Molen (14) and Montooth (12) joined him in double figures. Sallies also plays Appo in their next game, which is Saturday at 6 p.m. in Middletown.