BEAR — After running off seven consecutive wins over ranked teams, Salesianum basketball finally became the one to fall. John Clemmons scored 21 points as Caravel’s offense singed the Sals, 75-65, on Feb. 8.
It was a four-point Buccaneers lead at the half, a respectable offensive pace, but nothing compared to what was coming in after intermission. The teams went up and down the court at a blistering pace for improbable layups, some long-distance shooting and a caravan to the foul line.
Caravel quickly doubled its halftime margin, getting two field goals from Mekhi Carmon sandwiched around one from the Sals’ Isaiah Hynson, followed by a put back for Clemmons that made it 33-27 game.
Clemmons was forced to briefly leave the game with six minutes to go in the third when he landed awkwardly and grabbed at his ankle. While Clemmons was with the trainer, Salesianum’s Justin Molen drained four free throws to get the Sals back to the halftime deficit. Clemmons returned less than 90 seconds after he left, and the Bucs quickly restored the eight-point advantage.
Molen hit a three-pointer late in the third to draw the Sals within five, but Miles White electrified the crowd with a layup with just 2.5 seconds to go in the third.
That set the stage for a lengthy, point-filled fourth quarter.
Clemmons played a key role in extending the Bucs’ lead. He opened the quarter with a tip-in of a missed shot. A few minutes later, he swished a three-point shot while being knocked to the hardwood in front of the Caravel student section. The resulting free throw extended the Bucs’ lead to 53-41 with 5:27 to go.
One series of plays gives an indication of what type of quarter the fourth was. White came down the court and hit another three, but Hynson dribbled back the other way and matched that. Then Amari Gordon sank a two, but Hynson responded in kind. All of that took less than 30 seconds, and the Sals were back within eight.
Dom Wyatt then connected on a reverse layup on what may have been the prettiest play of the night, only to see Molen hit two more free throws. The Sals got as close as seven, but on two occasions the Bucs beat the press by finding Owen Robinson behind the defense for layups. The Buccaneers made seven of eight free throws in the final minute of the contest to keep the Sals at bay.
While the first half was not as high-scoring, it was certainly not boring. Caravel had a 13-9 lead before Molen completed an old-fashioned three-point play, and Brett O’Hara followed with a steal and an assist to Hynson on a three-point shot that gave the Sals their first lead at 15-13 in the final 30 seconds of the first. Gordon scored with two and a half seconds left to close the first out in a tie.
A three from Quinn O’Hara put the Sals ahead, 21-17, midway through the second, but Clemmons scored on an and-one to trim three points off that lead. Clemmons then came up with a rebound and fed Zane Bohn for a cutting layup to put the Bucs back on top.
Caravel’s smothering defense appeared to bother the Sals much of the evening, particularly in the second quarter, when Salesianum managed just eight points.
Clemmons was one of four Buccaneers in double figures. He was joined by Wyatt (17), White (10) and Carmon (10). Caravel improved to 11-4 and visits Delaware Military Academy on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Molen had 20 to pace the Sals. Hynson had 15, and Sam Walsh added 13. Salesianum (8-7) will be at Saint Mark’s on Friday for a 7:15 p.m. tip.
All photos by Mike Lang.