One unbeaten team still stands
Just days after defeating one of the league's top teams in Bangor, the Salisbury boys basketball team traveled to rival Southern Lehigh on Tuesday night.
The Falcons and Spartans were the final two unbeaten teams in the Colonial League heading into that pivotal contest. Salisbury showed early on that it was up for yet another critical challenge.
Following a 14-6 advantage after the first quarter, Salisbury pushed its lead to 30-10 in the final two minutes of the half. The Spartans (11-5 overall; 8-2 in Colonial League), however, chipped away at their deficit to make it a three-point game in the final moments before the Falcons (14-1 overall; 11-0 in Colonial League) closed the game on an 11-6 run to secure a 62-54 victory.
"We weren't expected to win these games," said Brendan Reichenbach, who scored 13 points. "We weren't expected to be this good record-wise in the league, and we've proved people wrong. We've been playing great defense and showing them what we can do."
After scoring the final seven points of the first half, including a three-pointer from Noah Kandt at the buzzer to make it a 30-17 game, Southern Lehigh's comeback continued in the third period.
The Spartans outscored the Falcons 17-13 in the third. Kandt hit his second three-pointer of the game with 2:27 to play in the frame to bring the Spartans to within 39-32. Jacob Cassel then hit a baseline jumper seconds later to make it a five-point game, the closest Southern Lehigh had been since late in the opening quarter.
"We answered everything they had," Reichenbach said. "We came back, and we just kept them out of reach and finished it off."
Cassel scored the final of his team-high 14 points with 1:24 remaining, a bucket that made it a one-possession game for Southern Lehigh. But the Spartans, who also trailed by three in the final minute, could never retake the lead.
Dasheen Reid, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter, hit all six of his free throws to help the Falcons cement the victory down the stretch.
"My teammates felt fine without me," said Reid, who picked up two early fouls. "I was happy and cheering them on [from] the bench."
As a team, the Falcons had an answer every time the Spartans threatened. Reid stepped up late in the fourth quarter, but Reichenbach came up with a key stretch earlier in the period that halted a 12-6 Spartan run.
Following a bucket by Cody Heffelfinger that brought the Spartans to within 43-37, Reichenbach set up a cutting Bryce Fairclough on the next possession. Then, Reichenbach hit the final of his fourth three-pointer to push the Falcons' lead back to double digits with 5:44 to play.
"It was a lot of chaos out there," Reichenbach said. "I haven't been hitting my three's all season. In the past two games I made seven, compared to four the rest of the season. I've been finally finding my shot."
The offense once again broke 60 points, the ninth time that has happened this season. But it's the Falcons' defense that has been the key. It was on full display in the first half when the Spartans shot just 5-for-27 from the field.
"It was a great defensive effort," Falcon head coach Jason Weaver said. "I thought we did a great job controlling the boards. We limited them to one-shot opportunities.
"All they wanted to do was run," Reid said. "We basically stopped their running game in the first half."
Tevon Weber led the Falcons with 15 points and nine rebounds. To go along with Cassel's 14, Heffelfinger (13) and Kandt (10) scored in double figures.
The Falcons travel to Northern Lehigh on Thursday at 7 p.m.