SALEM — Just getting to overtime felt like an escape.
How could the Salem boys basketball team survive another four minutes after letting a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away by going scoreless for the final 6:11 of regulation yesterday afternoon against Lowell?
Somehow the Witches made it work, continuing to rely on their defense and getting some much-needed hoops in overtime to squeak out a 69-65 win over the Raiders.
After struggling mightily against Lowell’s zone trap in the fourth quarter and witnessing a few wacky plays down the stretch, what could Salem coach Tommy Doyle say to his team before heading to the extra session?
“That it was still our game. They brought it to overtime, but it was a new game and it was still ours to win,” Doyle said. “We stepped up defensively and got the stops we needed, then we got a few key hoops.”
Senior forward Rashad Keys shook loose for a layup 24 seconds into overtime to snap the Witches’ scoring drought and Bryan Martinez-Rodriguez converted a drive with 1:55 to play in overtime to give Salem the lead for good.
Jamie Dominguez made both ends of a 1-and-1 with four seconds left to put it away.
“We still made a few mistakes here and there in overtime,” Doyle said after his team moved to 4-1. “We’re still a work in progress. We have five new starters and day-by-day we’re getting better. The kids are playing really hard and trying to get better every day.”
Salem’s lack of experience nearly cost it a win in the fourth quarter. When it was winning time the Witches started struggling with Lowell’s 1-2-1-1, three-quarter court press, a defense it had handled in spots throughout the first three quarters.
The Witches seemed to be caught in between playing quickly for potential easy baskets and slowing it down for solid possessions. The result was turnovers and missed shots.