SALEM-A season-ending foot injury to Salem's 6-foot-6 senior Max Wolfgang has left a gaping hole in the Quakers' lineup. Wednesday night, Beaver Local was all too happy to take advantage.
The Beavers used a punishing low-post game to run away in the third quarter, dispatching the Quakers, 65-45, at Cabas Gymnasium.
Senior forward Jared Lyder scored 19 points and hauled in nine rebounds as Beaver Local improved to 12-9 overall. Salem falls to 6-13.
"Our goal was to go straight to the post tonight," Lyder said. "We ran our post offense pretty much the entire game and it was very successful."
Beaver Local coach Jeremy Christen said the Beavers were not sure of the extent of Wolfgang's injury coming in, but once they saw the Quaker senior in an air cast, there was never any doubt where his team would attack.
"Wolfgang did a lot for them and is a really tough guy to replace," Christen said. "With him out, we were going to attack the post hard. We got into it right away and didn't let up."
Lyder's fellow forwards Josh Underwood and Chandler Cornell had 14 points and six rebounds apiece, while point guard Chase Hilliard had 12 points, five assists and three steals as the Beavers ensured a second consecutive winning season. Their only regular-season game left is an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference consolation game against Martins Ferry on Friday. The accomplishment meant a lot to Beaver Local alum Christen in his first year on the job.
"With us graduating a 1,000-point scorer in Troy Hudson a lot of people didn't give us much of a chance this year," Christen said. "There wasn't a lot of optimism. But I saw a core we could build on. It started as soon as I took over. The kids showed a strong work ethic during the summer and everything fell into place.'
"We've been playing some great basketball down the stretch," Lyder said. "We pushed each other to get to this point and feel we are clicking on all cylinders going into the tournament."
Without Wolfgang's 16 points and 12 rebounds per game, Salem faced an uphill battle, but held its own in the first half and was trailing by seven at halftime thanks to a strong effort from Mike Popa, who scored a season high 14 points to lead the Quakers.
"That was Mike's best game this season." Salem coach Rich Hart said. "Without Max some other guys are going to have to step up and he gave us a spark."
In the third quarter, however, the Quakers were overpowered. Underwood scored six straight points and the Beavers dominated the boards during an 18-4 run ro open the frame. A messy string of Salem turnovers did not help.
"We did a terrible job rebounding and just gave them momentum," Hart said. "We are going to have to use this next week to regroup. Max made everybody on the floor better. We are going to have to a better job using our speed to create opportunities, it's all we have right now."
Salem won the junior varsity game 50-39. Eric Campolito had 11 points for Salem. Josh Beck had nine points for Beaver Local.
A few of the Beavers were awaiting text message results of the Beaver Local girls sectional game against Steubenville, which was going on at the same time.
"We all wished them the best of luck," Christen said. "A lot of the kids were thinking about it tonight."
"We try to make it out to as many games as we can," Lyder said.
The Beaver Local front line combined for 40 points and 21 rebounds.
Salem's third-leading scorer Mike Ciotti-who replaced Wolfgang in the lineup-left in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Hart said his condition will be evaluated in the coming days.
BEAVER LOCAL 20-10-26-9-65
BEAVER LOCAL SCORING: Josh Underwood 4-6-14, Chandler Cornell 6-0-14, Jared Lyder 9-1-19, Chase Hilliard 5-0-12, Hayden Grafton 2-0-4, Bryce McKenzie 0-0-0, Christian Cooper 0-0-0, Conner Hall 0-2-2, Tyler Kithas 0-0-0, Jake Underwood 0-0-0. TOTALS: 26, 9-20: 65.
SALEM SCORING: D.J. Pullie 3-2-9, Mark Fredrickson 1-0-2, Andrew Dolphin 2-0-4, Mike Ciotti 1-0-2, Ryan Hoover 4-1-10, Mike Popa 5-1-14, Jake Bezon 0-0-0, Alex Weikart 0-0-0, Trey Toothman 0-0-0, Carter Rose 1-0-2, Tyler Shaffer 1-0-2. TOTALS: 18, 4-8: 45.
Three-pointers: Beaver Local 4 (Cornell 2, Hilliard 2), Salem 5 (Popa 3, Pullie, Hoover).