SALEM -When an ankle injury forced Salem senior Max Wolfgang out in the fourth quarter, the Quakers opened up with speed and determination.
The late effort seemed to work, but Marlington proved to be too fast for the Quakers, and the Dukes fended off the rally and cruised to a 61-49 victory at Cabas Gymnasium on Tuesday.
"We're not going to back down," Salem coach Rich Hart said. "Our kids played hard, and I'm proud of them because they could've quit right there."
The Quakers (6-10, 5-6 NBC) depended on scrappy efforts from D.J. Pullie and Mike Ciotti. Pullie led with 18 points, while Ciotti, Salem's top bench scorer, hit 16.
"I thought D.J. and Ciotti played really well," Hart said. "Ciotti played super. D.J. was a little slow in the first half, but he picked up well in the second half."
The Quakers lost lone senior Max Wolfgang in the fourth quarter. As he scored two of his seven points, Wolfgang fell on Marlington's Thomas Mason, and landed awkwardly on his ankle, injuring it in the process. He remained on the bench afterwards with ice strapped to his ankle.
"He fell on Mason awkwardly," Hart said. "He was going to make a layup and hurt his ankle bad. Hopefully we can be able to get him back soon."
Hart said that a situation like that wasn't going to take away the team's desire to win.
"They kept playing hard and I'm proud of their effort," Hart said. "We may not play with Max again so we'll have to play with that attitude for 32 minutes."
The Dukes improve to 13-3 overall and 9-2 in the Northeastern Buckeye Conference, second in the league behind Alliance.
The game was decided by Marlington 6-0 run in the first quarter and a 15-3 third-quarter run.
Marlington coach Nick Evanich noted the team's attempts to keep Wolfgang from scoring, notably from guards Mason and Steve Clark.
"We were just making it hard for Max to score in the paint," Evanich said. "We had our guards protecting him well and we were able to just take advantage."
Evanich said the Quakers didn't quit following Wolfgang's injury.
"The guards know now that they're going to make plays," Evanich said. "I think we turned it over one time and missed some free throws. We let them hang around because they were attacking and playing free but we didn't finish on our end enough to coast."
Mason, who led the Dukes with 22 points, talked about how the team kept it together as the Quakers began to threaten.
"We showed a lot of poise," Mason said. "We have such a size advantage, to get on the offensive side. Max is their biggest offensive threat, and we have to work better."
Shawn Kirk also scored 11 for the Dukes.
After the game, Wolfgang was taken to Salem hospital for X-rays. The Quakers will have to see if Wolfgang will be healthy enough when the Quakers playn a two-night stand against rival West Branch this weekend.
"We don't know if we'll be able to get Max back," Hart said. "It's something we'll find out once we hear from a doctor."
The two-night stand begins at West Branch on Friday, and ends at Cabas Gymnasium on Saturday.
"This has never happened before in the years I've been here," Hart said. "We've played them one week apart, but we've never played them back-to-back days. This is going to be interesting."
The game was held an hour earlier, with junior varsity starting at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., due to the threat of the upcoming winter storm.
Marlington also won the junior varsity game 54-38. Andrew Brady and Brock Begue led both led with 14 points each, while Trey Toothman scored 15 for the Quakers.
MARLINGTON SCORING: Ben Martin 1-0-2, Marcus Devies 0-1-1, Shawn Kirk 5-0-11, Jacob Sawman 2-2-6, Tyler Oakes 1-0-2, Chris Andrews 3-5-11, Andrew Brady 0-0-0, Zach Owen 0-0-0, Thomas Mason 7-8-22, Steve Clark 1-0-2, Jacob Begue 1-2-4. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 18-22: 61.
SALEM SCORING: D.J. Pullie 6-3-18, Mark Fredrickson 0-0-0, Jake Bezon 0-0-0, Alex Weikart 0-0-0, Andrew Dolphin 2-0-5, Mike Ciotti 7-0-16, Mike Popa 0-0-0, Trey Toothman 1-0-3, Ryan Hoover 0-0-0, Max Wolfgang 2-3-7. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 6-9: 49.
Three-point goals: Marlington 1 (Kirk), Salem 7 (Pullie 3, Ciotti 2, Dolphin, Toothman).