Falcons rout Warriors, advance to semis
It would have been easy for Salisbury to cut its losses and pack it in mentally.
But despite losing leading scorer Dasheen Reid for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, and facing a Wilson squad that gave Salisbury trouble in two previous meetings, the Falcons didn't feel sorry for themselves.
Even with the emotional rollercoaster ride coming in the days following Reid's injury in the Colonial League championship less than two weeks ago, the Falcons put together an effort not many could have anticipated.
The No. 2 seeded Falcons used a quick 9-0 spurt and built off that momentum to lead 28-11 over No. 7 Wilson at halftime. Salisbury was never threatened the rest of the way, growing it's lead to as much as 31 points in a 61-31 win in the District 11 Class AAA quarterfinals at Catasauqua High School on Friday.
"Emotions change so quickly," head coach Jason Weaver said. "Friday night, these guys were down, and I was down and I thought about it all weekend. Just to come back and play the way we did, and with Dasheen being out, the guys just stepped up.
"These guys brought the energy tonight which was awesome to see. It's amazing how resilient kids are."
A year removed from falling in the quarterfinal round, the Falcons are once again a win away from playing for their second district crown in five years. Salisbury faced No. 3 Central Catholic on Tuesday night in the semifinals. Results were not available at time of press deadline.
"We knew guys had to step up, but we kind of didn't have that confidence to go in," said Bryce Fairclough, who scored a game-high 19. "But I felt like once we hit the court, we ran, we played intense and we played great defense."
The previous two meetings between Salisbury and Wilson saw the Falcons face a 10-point and nine-point deficit at halftime.
This time it was the Falcons who got off to the quick start. Bryce Fairclough scored nine of his 19 in the opening period to push Salisbury's lead to 14-4.
"I kind of figured I was going to have to put up a little more shots than I normally do," Fairclough said. "I didn't expect to have 19, but I was making them so I just kept going."
The Falcons' defensive pressure continued to carry them in the second frame after doubling up the Warriors 14-7. Wilson shot 4-for-17 in the first half, with three of those makes coming from Colonial League MVP Phil Pierfy, who finished with 18.
"Our guys were just ready to play defense," Weaver said. "They forced them into tough shots. They took looks away. Phil is going to be a focal point of their offense, but I thought we did a great job doubling him and forcing him into some tough shots.
"We played our best defensive effort in a long time tonight."
But while Pierfy got his points once again, the main difference was holding the rest of Warriors attack in check.
The three-point shot was also a complete opposite from their latest meeting when Wilson made 11 from long range. The Falcons' collapsing defense on the wings held the Warriors without a three-point field goal in eight attempts last week.
"I watched their game against Palisades on Tuesday and they hit one three, and I'm thinking, 'Oh man, is that a sign that they're going to be on fire tonight?'" Weaver said. "But our defense was up to the challenge and really limited that, and we forced them into tough shots."
Tevon Weber and Dylan Belletiere each scored 10 points and added five assists in the win.
The Falcons take the court on Friday night regardless of Tuesday's outcome. Salisbury could earn a spot in the championship game with a win over Central Catholic, or the Falcons will be playing in the third-place game against either Pottsville or Tamaqua.