SALEM - The skies over Salem High School were clear on an unseasonably warm Friday night, but inside the John C. Cabas Gymnasium, it was raining 3-pointers.
The Quakers and Canton South combined for 14 long-distance shots as Salem came out on top of a 57-51 shootout that started as a blowout.
"It wasn't pretty, that's for sure," Salem coach Rich Hart said. "But we won and that's the most important thing. We did enough to win."
The Quakers led 16-11 after one complete and 26-12 at the half. But despite allowing just one point in the second quarter - the Wildcats were 0-of-4 from the field and 1-of-6 from the line - Salem was unable to put South away. The Quakers committed six turnovers in the quarter which yielded just 10 Salem points.
"Canton South only scored that one point, but we never could stretch our lead out," Hart said. "We had two empty possessions and two missed layups. We can't miss those. We got a steal, had a nice pass under the basket and we miss it. That can't happen. We have to finish those things."
The Wildcats were fortunate to go into the break down just 14 points, and they stormed back in the third. Armand Fontes, who was shut out in the first half, dropped in 12 of his game-high 24 points in the frame - all from 3-point territory. The Wildcats would score 18 points in the third quarter - six more than they had in the entire first half.
Salem was able to match three of South's third-quarter long shots and all of its third-quarter points. Ryan Bush, Trent Kenreigh and Zach Ecomomous each hit a 3 and Max Wolfgang scored two points from the inside and two from the line. Bush also added a free throw and Kenreigh had a layup to maintain a 14-point spread at the end of the third. The Quakers led 44-30.
"Canton South hit some nice shots in that third," Hart said. "Fontes is a pretty good player and pretty good shot. They kept hitting 3's, but give our guys credit, the matched the shots, and we were able to preserve a great win."
The Quakers had to fight to the end for that victory - their second-straight in the NBC. Turnovers again proved costly in the final frame - Salem committed five in the period to finish with 20 total - and allowed the Wildcats to claw back into the game with 21 fourth-quarter points. With two minutes on the clock, Fontes hit his fifth 3-pointer of a night to cut South's deficit to 48-44. Kyle Deckferd kept South in it with two 3-pointers down the wire.
However, different Quakers came at the end to clinch it. Bush, Brayden Myers, Wolfgang and Anthony Shivers all came up with key field goals in the fourth. Brendan Webb was 3-of-4 at the line in the frame and Anthony Shivers dropped in two foul shots. Wolfgang and Shivers, who each had eight rebounds, also came up with big on the boards in the closing minutes.
"This was a team effort," Hart said. "We spread the scoring around and we had a big night from our bench. Ecomomous hit a big shot for us tonight. Brayden came up with a big basket. Zach Penick came in and played great defense like he has all season. Max and Tony really came up with some big rebounds. Everybody stepped up tonight. That was nice to see."
Bush was Salem's high scorer. He finished with 18. Wolfgang added nine, while Shivers and Kenreigh each came up with nine. Ecomomous had two 3-pointers.
For the Wildcats, Bryson Smith chipped in 10 points, including two buckets from beyond the arc. Deckferd finished with nine points.
The Quakers improved to 4-4 on the season. They next host undefeated Alliance on Tuesday. The Aviators are 10-0.
Salem's J.V. team won 38-20.
CANTON SOUTH: 11 1 18 21 - 51
SALEM: 16 10 18 13 - 57
CANTON SCORING: Armand Fontes 8-3-24, Bryson Smith 4-0-10, Kyle Deckferd 30-09. Josh Lyon 0-1-1, Trey Taylor 3-1-7. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 4-13, 51.
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 8-1-18, Trent Kenreigh 4-0-9, Brenden Webb 0-3-3, Brayden yers 10-02, Zach Ecomomous 2-0-6, Max Wolgang 4-2-10, Anthony Shiver 3-3-9. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 9-17, 57.
THREE POINTERS: Canton South 10 (Fontes 5, Deckerd 3, Smith 2), SAlem 4 (Ecomomous 2, Bush, Kenreigh).