By Pete Mollica
Any basketball coach will tell you that winning close games is a real confidence builder for the team and Salem High boys should have gotten a whole lot of confidence following Tuesday night’s contest with Canfield.
The Quakers (2-2) and Cardinals (0-4) battled through 21 lead changes and six ties before Salem pulled out a 61-57 victory in a game that wasn’t decided until less than one second remained.
Salem held a one point lead 58-57 with 23 seconds remaining, but the Cardinals missed on three 3-point attempts over that span and the Quakers connected on three of six free throws, two by senior Jake Madison and the final one by sophomore Ryan Bush with 0.9 seconds remaining to ice the victory.
“We knew it was going to be a battle with two teams who have been struggling thus far this season, but I was pleased to see us finally finish a game and hang on for the win,” said Salem head coach Rich Hart. “This win is going to be a real confidence builder for this ball club. We blew a close game with Poland early this year and we really needed to pull out this one. “Another close loss would have really hurt this team,” he added.
Madison led the Quakers with 20 points, 14 of them in the second half and eight in the final eight minutes.
He also had three of the team’s five 3-point goals, all in the second half. Senior Ryan Wolfgang added 18 points and senior Taylor Fredrickson chipped in with 12.
It was another difficult loss for the Cardinals, who have been in all four of their games, but have yet to come out on top.
“We are a very inexperienced team with a lot of guys in their first season of varsity play,” said Canfield first-year head coach Todd Muckleroy. “We battled hard tonight and we were right in there, but they made the shots when they needed them and we didn’t.”
The Cardinals got a strong effort from senior Dan Campolito, who led all scorers with 28 points including five 3-point goals, but at the end Campolito missed his final three long-range shots when the Cardinals were trying to regain the lead.
“Danny’s a great shooter and he’s been leading us all year and that’s why we went to him at the end, but it just didn’t work out,” Mucklelroy added.
Canfield broke on top early in the game jumping out to a 6-2 lead, before the Quakers battled back and the see-saw battled took place.