SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Sometimes football season has a lingering affect on basketball, especially when a team is in the playoffs. That is the story of the Salem Quakers as they are just now getting over their football hangover as shown by their dominating 65-44 victory over previously undefeated Carrollton Friday night at home.
“We’re finally pretty close to being healthy,” Quakers coach Rich Hart stated. “We needed this, but I could tell about by Wednesday that they felt a lot better about themselves because everybody was pretty close to being healthy and you could tell that everything was working a lot better then it had been. They played well tonight.”
“They shot the ball better than us, they rebounded the ball better than us, took care of the ball better than us, they were obviously a better team than us tonight,” Warriors coach Todd English remarked. “It’s our first loss, but we will bounce back.”
With the victory, the Quakers improve to 1-2 on the season, 1-1 in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference. Carrollton drops to 4-1, 1-1 in the league.
The Quakers led the game from start finish as they raced out to a 19-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. They continued to pull away in the second period powered by the hot shooting of senior guard DJ Pullie. Pullie would connect on 4 of 5 three-point shots, and score 16 of his game-high 22 points in the half as the Quakers enjoyed a 18-point 34-16 lead at intermission.
“I’m a senior this year, I feel that it’s my job to get the team fired up to bring the energy and that’s what I did tonight,” Pullie said.
“DJ was pretty banged up. He wasn’t much of a factor in our first two games. But he was moving really well today. he got hammered in the Last playoff game (against Steubenville),” Hart explained.
In addition to Pullie’s 22-points, senior forward Jon Gerace would also score 22 on the night while also grabbing 8 rebounds. Nick Rusyn and Alec Economous would both each grab 7 caroms. Dan Laut would lead the Quakers with 5 assist on the night.
Gerace was very good (tonight),” Hart said. “He worked hard all summer. If I had a dollar for every hour that Danny Laut, Garace, and DJ and Nick (Rusyn) spend in the gym I could have retired a long time ago, because they worked their tails off this summer.”
But to the Warriors credit they came out in the second half fired up and cut the Quakers lead down to just 9-points at the 2:28 mark of the third stanza when C Russell hit a jumper for the Warriors to make it 40-31. That was as close as the Warriors would get as the Quakers closed the period with a 5-0 and a 45-31 advantage at the end of the period. The Quakers would go on to outscore the Warriors 20-13 in the final period.
“It starts with defense. We have got to stop them on defense. Defense is going to lead to offense, and offense is going to lead to scoring. If we can stop them on defense we can win the game,” Gerace said of how they turned the moment at the end of the third quarter.
“Coming into the game coach told us that they are a fourth quarter team, that they play all the way to the end. They are a good team and they played to the end. We just knew we were going to have to keep playing hard,” Pullie said.
“To carry this momentum over into our next games is going to be huge for us,” Gerace remarked. “It’s all about momentum. We want to carry this win and keep pushing forward.”
“From here on out we plan to play like we did tonight,” Pullie added.
The Quakers would also capture the J-V contest by a 62-24 score with Mitch Davidson scoring a game-high 15-points.