Still, until the final minute and a half, Cross had just a pair of free throws in the second half including a scoreless third quarter thanks to the defense played by Sanchez. The junior guard fed off his own defensive play and picked up his game offensively, scoring 10 points in the second half.
“Sanchez gave us a lift defensively,” noted Doyle. “Cross scored 20 points but he really had to work for those 20 points. He (Sanchez) really did a great job.”
Keys was the big contributor in the opening quarter hitting jumper after jumper from just inside the baseline. He and Kazadi had a pair of blocks each in the opening eight minutes as Salem’s 3-2 zone was relatively effective until Beverly and Cross caught fire in the second quarter forcing the Witches to switch out of it.
“He (Keys) gives us a presence. This is the first time we’ve had some height,” said Doyle, who talked about the zone. “We haven’t worked at it enough. It’s something we believe in but it wasn’t working so we tried something else.”
The hosts didn’t shoot nearly as many three-pointers as Salem teams of recent years but White knocked down a trio of trifectas including one from the corner midway through the fourth quarter to put the Witches ahead by four points.
Then, he made a great pass inside to Kazadi for two points to put Salem ahead seven with a little over a minute to play.
“He’s a gamer,” Doyle said of White. “He stepped up huge for us last year off the bench. Now, he wants that big shot in the big moment. I know he’s going to give me everything he’s got.”