Falcons fall to Slaters in league title game
The Salisbury boys basketball team was 32 minutes away from capturing its second Colonial League championship in four seasons.
But before adding another league title to the trophy case, Bangor awaited the Falcons in Friday's championship game at Freedom High School.
Unfortunately for Salisbury, it was a stretch over the final four minutes that propelled Bangor to its second league title in three years. The No. 3 seeded Slaters scored 12 of the final 16 points to down the top-seeded Falcons, 59-49, at Freedom's Joseph J. McIntyre Gym.
"We took the lead in the third quarter," head coach Jason Weaver said. "It was very quickly a one-point lead or two-point lead. They went down and scored again, and I don't think we ever got that opportunity to get that lead back."
Despite falling behind by eight points midway through the third quarter after Bangor's Dylan Benton hit a jumper, the Falcons managed to find their way back into the contest moments later.
Three straight Falcon field goals, capped by a Brendan Reichenbach three-pointer from the left corner with 2:24 to play in the third, brought Salisbury to within a point at 37-36. After Bryce Fairclough missed an opportunity for a three-point play from the foul line, Dasheen Reid gathered the rebound and connected on a three-point play to give the Falcons a 41-39 lead.
It was the first lead since Salisbury held an early 10-9 advantage in the first quarter.
But while the end of the third quarter seemed to give the Falcons the momentum they had been looking for, it took a bit of a hit when Reid fall hard to the floor after contesting a Slater shot at the end of the period. He remained on the floor momentarily before walking off with an apparent knee injury.
Reid, the Falcons' leading scorer and a Colonial League First Team selection, did not return for the entire fourth quarter. He exited the game with 12 points.
The absence of their go-to scorer certainly hurt down the stretch, as the Falcons couldn't muster that crucial basket to halt the Slaters' spurt.
"Dasheen is able to attack the basket, and he's able to create plays for other guys," Weaver said. "Defenses collapse on him and that opens things up for other guys, so I think it was huge. But we're still in that game. What I think hurt us down the stretch is some offensive rebounds and loose balls."
Salisbury scored just four points through the first six minutes of the fourth quarter and shot 2-for-10 from the field.
The Falcons opened up a quick 5-0 lead early and the teams took a 10-10 tie into the second quarter after five points from Reid.
The second quarter told a slightly different story. The Slaters' offense poured in 21 points and hit five three-pointers to hold a 31-25 lead at halftime. Michael Martino (also a Colonial League First Team selection) and Anthony Schiavone each hit two from long range in the period.
"That's what we talked about at halftime," Weaver said. "We were down by six, and they had hit that three right before the half. We were down six, and they made five threes in the second quarter."
Five Slaters, led by Reese Jones' 15 points and Martino's 14, finished in double figures. Benton, Schiavone and Shavaughn Morris, who also registered 11 rebounds and countless momentum-changing plays, each added 10 points.
Fairclough added 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks for the Falcons.
"It seemed like every loose ball, every tip, or every deflection went to them," Weaver said.
The Falcons edged out Wilson in the Colonial League semifinals, 69-64 in overtime, to reach their third title game in five years.