By Matt Jenkins
---- — SALEM — Despite all the turnovers, all the offensive rebounds surrendered, all the missed opportunities, Salem found a way to survive last night.
Salem senior guard Jamie Dominguez hit a contested pull-up jumper with 20 seconds left in regulation, then converted a conventional three-point play with 17 seconds left in overtime to help the Witches pull out a 60-58 win over Brighton in a Division 2 North first round game.
Salem (17-4) will now host Belmont on Monday (7 p.m.) in the quarterfinals.
Dominguez (17 points) was in the right spot at the right time on at least two occasions. His game-tying shot came off the dribble with a Brighton (11-11) defender in his shirt.
The game-clincher was more dramatic, believe it or not.
Dominguez headed to the line for a 1-and-1 with 19 seconds left and Salem clinging to a 57-56 lead. He front-rimmed the front end, but alertly stepped into the paint, grabbed the rebound and banked in a short floater while absorbing a foul. He made the free throw to push it to 60-56.
“I did not want to miss that, so once I saw it was coming off the rim my mission was to go get that,” Dominguez said. “I didn’t want this to be my last game.”
A Rashad Keys blocked shot at the other end gave Dominguez the chance to deliver the big points.
The play Dominguez made on his missed shot was just a case of a good player coming through in a tough spot.
“Oh, what a play. A huge play,” Salem coach Tommy Doyle said. “They missed the assignment or whatever it is, he made a sneaky little move in there, gets the ball and one. It was just great to see him step up and make a play like that.”
Salem turned the ball over 23 times, with most coming at some of the worst possible moments. The Witches couldn’t really grab control of the game because their turnovers always seemed to come right after a defensive stop.
Brighton hit the Witches with a 14-0 run early in the third quarter to take command, but Salem didn’t give in.
“These Salem kids are tough,” Doyle said. “We also shot 2 for 13 from the foul line. We certainly made some mistakes that we were hoping not to tonight, but at the same time the kids stepped up and made the big plays that they needed to.”
Salem used a 14-3 run late in the third quarter and into the fourth to climb back into the game.
Keys shot the ball well for Salem and finished with 21 points and six rebounds. David Kazadi added 12 points, 15 rebounds and a couple of big blocks, including snuffing out Tyrone Perry’s breakaway by pinning it on the glass.
Mark Mojica led Brighton with 19 points.
Early in the game, it seemed like both teams were feeling each other out, with each team playing 3-2 zones. Salem had trouble finding offense early while Brighton was content to shoot 3-pointers over the zone.
After falling behind 17-11 early in the second, Salem came to life.
Dominguez knocked down a three, then Keys got free in the open court. His tomahawk jam invigorated the Salem crowd and cut the deficit to one (17-16). Dominguez followed with another three to give the Witches their first lead, 19-17.
Brighton scored the final two hoops of the half, however, to take a 27-26 lead into the locker room.
“We worked on things all week that we got away from and that caused us to fall behind,” Doyle said. “We were able to re-focus on the things we needed to do to win, which was extend out on the shooters and we didn’t do a great job rebounding the basketball, but man they’re tough.”
Salem 60, Brighton 58
Brighton: Jones 4-2-10, Johnson 1-0-2, Perry 3-0-9, Carter 0-1-1, Edmonds 6-0-14, Mojica 7-2-19, Bereus 1-0-2, Bouyer 0-1-1. Totals 22-6-58.
Salem: Keys 8-1-21, White 0-0-0, Dominguez 6-1-17, Kazadi 6-0-12, Martinez Rodriguez 5-0-10, Perpetuo 0-0-0. Totals 25-2-60.
Halftime: B, 27-26
3-pointers: B, Perry 3, Mojica 3, Edmonds 2; S, Dominguez 4, Keys 4.
Records: B, 11-11; S, 17-4.