BOARDMAN - The Salem boys basketball team has been competitive all season long but got in a pesky habit of falling just short down the stretch.
Unfortunately for the Quakers that trend continued Friday night as No. 2 seed Poland bounced Salem from Division II district tournament action 53-48 at Boardman High School.
"It was just a close game the whole way around," Salem head coach Rich Hart said. "You got the feeling whoever had the ball last was gonna win this one. Our kids had a great effort, and I'm real proud of how they played. We just got beat by a great player."
That great player was Poland's Colin Reardon who tallied a game-high 22 points and was a thorn in Salem's side most of the contest.
No other Poland player hit double figures.
For Salem, Friday marked the final game for seniors Trent Kenreigh and Zack Penick.
"They did a great job," Hart said. "They led by example. They were two leaders and gave us everything they had. I'm real proud to have been able to coach them."
Kenreigh finished with 10 points in his final game as a Quaker. Penick, a defensive standout for the squad all season tallied a free throw.
Ryan Bush finished with a team-high 19 points for the Quakers. Brendan Webb had eight points, and Zach Economous hit a pair of 3-pointers for six.
With nine juniors on the team, most of which got significant varsity time this season, Hart is very hopeful next season the Quakers will turn the corner.
"We were close all season," Hart said. "With nine out of 11 players coming back, we need to work harder and bridge that gap and get better. We're not that far off. That should be incentive enough to work hard this summer to get over the hump."
If history is any indication, Salem should be set up for a banner year in 2012-13.
"I had a group like this in Minerva where we were 8-13 and lost 10 of those games by five points or less," Hart said. "The next year we won those games, so I'm looking forward to that year of maturity."
- Poland started the fourth quarter with a 6-1 foul advantage. They move on to face Southeast at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
- Salem finishes the season 9-13.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at email@example.com
SALEM: 9 18 8 13 - 48
POLAND: 14 15 13 12 - 53
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 9-1-19, Zack Penick 0-1-1, Trent Kenreigh 4-2-10, Brendan Webb 3-0-8, Zach Economous 2-0-6, Max Wolfgang 1-0-2, Anthony Shivers 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 20, 4-6, 48.
POLAND SCORING: Kevin White 3-0-9, Colin Reardon 9-1-22, Jacob Wolfe 2-3-7, Jerry Lawman 3-0-8, Alex Hubbell 2-0-4, John Bannon 1-1-3. TEAM TOTALS: 20, 5-10, 53.
THREE POINTERS: Salem 4 (Webb 2, Economous 2), Poland 8 (White 3, Reardon 3), Lawman 2).