SALEM — The Salem High boys basketball team’s season came to an end last night with its 82-69 loss to Brighton in the North Division 2 quarterfinals. The game itself was over before the end of the third quarter.
Salem trailed by just three points at the half, but the Witches went ice cold from the field in the third quarter scoring just seven points in the eight minute span as the Bengals held a 61-46 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
“We got some good looks early on in the second half. Unfortunately they didn’t fall,” explained Salem head coach Tom Doyle, whose team finished the season 16-6. “When that happens, we give them good shots on the other end and they knocked ‘em down and were able to take a good lead.”
Salem showed life early in the fourth quarter when Christian Dunston and Marvin Baez were able to create a few turnovers in the press that led to fast break points. Still, Salem was only able to cut the lead to 11 points before the Bengals were able to distance themselves for good.
“They’re pretty good shooters and we knew that, so we tried to get out and make them take some long ones,” said Brighton (17-6) head coach Hugh Coleman. “Luckily for us in the second half they took a lot of long ones. It was just one of those nights. I’d like to say our defensive pressure had a little to do with it but I’m sure the ball just didn’t fall their way tonight.”
Nick Simpson went off for a game-high 29 points scoring from the paint and from long range. Malik James chipped in 25 points and was crucial in the second half driving to the basket and opening up shots from the outside.
Salem was led by seniors Billy Muse (15 points) and Christian Dunston (13 points) but a couple of touch fouls put Dunston in jeopardy early, and he fouled out halfway through the fourth quarter when he was whistled for a block. Dunston had appeared to beat James to the spot, but the officials felt enough contact was initiated on Dunston.