WILMINGTON — For nearly two quarters of their game at Salesianum on Jan. 31, the Appoquinimink basketball team and the Sals were even. Haji Bell tied the game at 24 with a free throw midway through the second quarter, and after a three-pointer by the Sals’ Kareem Thomas, Christian Barksdale hit a 15-footer for the Jags.
But Thomas started a 10-0 run that would last into the third quarter with a mid-range jumper that became a three-point play, and R.J. Johnson turned a steal into a three-pointer before the half, and the Sals would never look back in a convincing 75-46 victory at Father Birkenheuer Gymnasium. Salesianum won its third straight, its second three-game streak of the season.
Isaiah Hynson continued the streak at the beginning of the second half, making a turnaround jumper off the glass, and Johnson went underneath as Salesianum’s lead grew to 11.
The teams treated the crowd to a track meet for much of the game, and the Sals added a significant rebounding edge and some accurate three-point shooting at the end of the third to grow their lead. Zach Swartout got a rise out of the fans in attendance, in particular the student section clad in their favorite NBA jerseys, with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that made it 52-38 after three.
The game was still within striking distance for the explosive Jaguars, but they lost the shooting touch late in the contest. After a Dillon Griffith field goal just before Swartout’s triple, Appo would go approximately six minutes without a bucket. During the drought, the Sals made seven field goals and traded two free throws with the Jags to take a 67-40 lead.
A number of Salesianum players contributed throughout the fourth. Justin Hinds scored on a follow shot, and Johnson backed down a defender before sinking a baby hook. Brandon Baffone connected from 12 feet, and Johnson had a triple and a two-pointer sandwiched around a shot by Thomas on which Johnson got the assist.
With victory assured, reserves Luke Brown and Patrick McGuinn found their way to the scoresheet. Brown scored on a pair of free throws, while McGuinn hit a jumper after taking a pass from Brown.
Final statistics were not available early Wednesday morning. The Sals (8-6) face another top-10 team on Thursday when Tower Hill visits for a 6:30 p.m. tip.
Appo (10-4) which had a three-game winning streak snapped, will face St. Georges on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington in the SL24 UnLocke the Light event.
All photos by Jason Winchell.