WILMINGTON — Salesianum and St. Elizabeth have a history of playing close basketball games, such as the eight-point Vikings win last month at Sallies. On Feb. 15 at the St. E Center, the Sals returned the favor, knocking off St. Elizabeth, 54-49.
The Vikings struck first, but the Sals answered in dramatic fashion, with Brandon Baffone finding Justin Hinds for an alley oop that kickstarted a fast-paced first quarter that ended with the Sals up, 17-16. After Zach Swartout put the Sals on top, 20-18, with a free throw, Aiden Tobiason took over on offense for the Vikings.
His wing three-pointer gave St. E’s a one-point lead. The next time down the floor, Tobiason set up on the other wing and drained another three. Sallies tied the game, but Tobiason made three of four free throws after a personal foul and a technical on Salesianum with 1:58 to go. Kareem Thomas scored on a scoop shot to get the Sals back to within a point, but Tobiason nailed another triple with 22 seconds to go, then grabbed a steal at half court and took it in for a layup that extended the Vikings’ advantage to six at the break.
The Sals put a defensive blanket on Tobiason in the second half, holding him scoreless until 3:19 remained in the contest. St. E’s was able to hang on to the lead, keeping the six-point lead until an Isaiah Hynson field goal cut it to four heading into the fourth.
Hynson opened the final quarter with a three to make it 39-38 Vikings, and Anthony Smith scored the next five for the Sals, going end to end after a rebound, then firing up a corner three as the run reached 10 points and Salesianum took a 43-39 lead. R.J. Johnson capped the run with two free throws before Shaun Chandler drove the length of the floor for the Vikings, who trailed, 45-41, with five minutes remaining.
The lead had grown to seven before Tobiason got back on the scoreboard. He made a pair of free throws, then went in from half court after a steal to cut the Sals’ lead to 50-47 with 2:29 left. Salesianum escaped further damage after two turnovers, but they weren’t as fortunate on the third, as Chandler drove for a field goal with 47.1 seconds to go. After that bucket, Hynson made two free throws, and Johnson ended the scoring after getting open for a layup to seal the win.
Johnson had 15 to lead the Sals, while Hynson and Hinds each scored 11. Salesianum (12-7), winners of seven of its last eight, visits Howard on Friday at 4:45 p.m. to wrap up the regular season.
Tobiason led all scorers with 21, with Chandler adding 18. The Vikings (12-7) finish the regular season on Monday night at 7:15 against Caravel.
All photos by Jason Winchell.