A grand goal for Bush

Salem senior needs 83 points to reach 1,000

By John Bassetti



Salem High senior Ryan Bush is averaging 24.7 points and needs 83 more to reach 1,000.

Other statistical averages include seven rebounds, 3.5 steals and 3.5 assists per game.

There’s one more that makes him a complete body-mind package: a 3.7 grade-point-average.

That’s why Bush is a consensus all-around player.

“He’s a big reason we’re 7-0,” said coach Rich Hart.

The 6-1 Bush was Salem’s leading scorer coming back after averaging 18 points per game as a junior.

“He’s picked up his game,” Hart said of Bush, a No. 2 guard, who has six dunks — including three against East Liverpool — already this year.

“He can really jump, but he can shoot it, too, as well as play the No. 1 guard spot, so he’s an all-around player.”

Complementing Bush are senior point guard Brendan Webb and post men Anthony Shivers and 250-pound Max Wolfgang.

Shivers, a 6-5 senior, and Wolfgang, a 6-5 junior, are averaging at least a dozen points and 10 rebounds.

Another senior starter is 6-3 Zach Economous, while Mike Madison, Austin Frank and Zach Wukotich are seniors who either start or come off the bench.

“They give us depth that we haven’t had the last few years,” said Hart, Salem’s third-year coach who is in his 23rd head-coaching season overall. His previous job was at Minerva.

Bush was a runner on Salem’s state-qualifying 4-x-400 relay, while Shivers was a state Division II discus champion.

“They do all the work underneath and get a ton of rebounds, but they’re also scoring a lot better than last year,” Bush said of the musclemen.

Salem, a second-year member of the Northeastern Buckeye Conference after spending many years in the Metro Athletic Conference and All-American Conference, started its toughest stretch of games last Friday when the Quakers beat Carrollton. Next for Salem will be undefeated Canton South on Friday, followed by non-league and once-beaten Canfield (Saturday) and Alliance (Jan. 8).

“I kind of want to get it over with,” Bush said of the prolonged climb to 1,000. “It would be nice to get there.”

Alliance is undefeated in the NBC, whose other members are Louisville, Marlington, Minerva and West Branch.

The NBC appears to be a different brand of basketball for the Quakers.

“The AAC is finesse and the NBC is very physical,” said Hart, who arrived a year after Bush.

Bush is being recruited by many Division III schools and some Division IIs.

“They’re starting to show interest now,” Hart said of Division II Malone, Gannon, Cedarville and Salem International.

The 18-year-old Bush, the son of Tim and Jane Bush of Columbiana who attended South Range district elementary schools and Youngstown Christian in junior high, has already taken college classes through Kent State-Salem’s joint program.

If Bush, who averaged 10 points as a sophomore, continues scoring his present average, he should hit 1,000 in four or five games.

“He’s hard to guard because he can do so many things,” Hart said of Bush, who has been able to exploit box-and-one coverage.

He’ll break down an opponent’s defense because he’s in such good condition.

“He’s got a nose for the basketball, so he can score from the 3-point line or take off the dribble,” Hart said. “And he’s very good around the basket, too.”

It helps to have a point guard like Webb, who recognizes what a defense is doing.

“He’s like another coach on the floor,” Hart said. “He makes the adjustments well [to help Bush when he’s guarded closely]. Plus, it’s nice to have two big guys inside that we can go to.”

Hart included Economous in the mix: “He’s a really good 3-point shooter, so we have a lot of different weapons.”

To counter opponents’ defensive schemes, Bush, a basketball junkie, says the Quakers try to keep moving.

“Coach has a few plays in case they do that [box-and-one]. So we normally try to use our athleticism to push the ball up court faster so they can’t set up a defense,” he said. “If I’m boxed, I can still manage to move and penetrate and have teammates set me up for some good looks and then I try to knock them in.”

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