BELOIT — Its been a rough stretch of games for the Salem girls basketball team.
The Quakers had lost three of its last four games (two to Howland and one to Canfield) and were desperately looking for a win.
What better place to get back on track than to get a win at rival West Branch Saturday night.
And with a comfortable 25-9 lead at halftime that win looked pretty secure.
Salem however, scored only 10 points in the second half and needed a free throw from Amy Scullion with 4.2 seconds left to hold off the Warriors, 35-32.
“It was good to finally get a win,” Scullion said with a huge smile. “We got a couple of lucky breaks at the end and this win is just what we needed before we get to the tournament.”
Salem (12-5) is seeded number one in the upcoming Division II district tournament at Austintown Fitch and could likely meet third-seeded West Branch at some point in the postseason.
“This will give us a little confidence heading into the tournament,” Scullion said. “I was fired up with how we played in the first half tonight. Can’t we talk about that?
“We played in the first half like we know we can play.”
The second half was a different story.
After Salem totally dominated the Warriors in the first two periods to take a commanding 16-point lead into the locker room, the Quakers nearly crumbled under a determined second half rally by West Branch.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Salem coach Jeff Andres. “Sometimes it looked like we were trying to give the game away.
“We couldn’t hit any shots and we were turning the ball over. We were very fortunate to get away with a win.”
Junior Tia King came off the bench for West Branch (10-7) to ignite an offense that was non-existent in the first half.
King hit two 3-pointers at the beginning of the third quarter and finished with 13 points for the Warriors.
West Branch outscored Salem 12-4 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 29-21 and then made an even more determined run in the final eight minutes.
A 3-point basket and a free throw by King with 3:33 left in the game brought West Branch to within 32-30.
Scullion made two free throws with 1:40 left to push the lead to four points and West Branch got a basket by Michelle Sosnick at 1:02 to make it 34-32.
Salem turned the ball over on its next possession but the Warriors gave it right back on a turnover with 22 seconds left.
Salem’s Danielle Kruegel missed a chance to seal the game with eight seconds left but she missed the front end of a one-and-one. The rebound bounced off the leg of a Warrior and Salem got the ball back.
Scullion made one of two free throws after being fouled with 4.2 seconds left and then got a big block on a long shot attempt by King to end the game.
Scullion scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Quakers.
“We played a great defensive game,” said West Branch coach Walt DeShields. “Our defense got us back in the game and we got a lift from King shooting the ball. This is the kind of game we expected tonight.”