Roughies’ Graves buries Salisbury
One of the most demoralizing things is to know what is about to happen while feeling unable to stop it.
After witnessing Catasauqua’s Isaiah Graves erupt for 27 points in their first meeting, Salisbury knew the Rough Rider junior would have the ball in his hands often in their second meeting, which took place last week. They knew that was especially true late in the game with the two teams trading leads in the fourth quarter.
Despite knowing Graves would get the ball and try to find a way into the paint from the left side of the lane, Salisbury had no answer. Graves scored 13 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with 0.9 seconds to play to lift Catasauqua (8-8 in Colonial League) over the Falcons (9-4) last Friday night, 57-56.
“I think we just gave up way too many drives to him,” Weaver said. “We were trying to take him away and I think our help was too slow. We know he’s always coming back to the left, and he’ spinning, and we overcommitted, leaned and we weren’t probably in the defensive position we needed to be.”
With less than 20 seconds to play and Salisbury clinging to a one-point lead after Jack Reichenbach (17 points) hit a three-pointer, Graves had one last trick up his sleeve. He drove to the left, where he lived for much of the night, and earned a trip to the foul line with just ticks left on the clock.
“We had put Jack on him last time, and I think Jack was gambling a little bit,” Weaver said. “You can’t really gamble with Graves. We had [Eric] Frankenfield, Joey [Galantini] and Sean [Snyder] rotating through on him.”
The fourth quarter alone witnessed seven lead changes, no lead larger than four points for either squad. With Catasauqua holding a 50-46 advantage, Ryan Slutsky hit a clutch three-pointer to get the Falcons within a point. Blake Jones then hit a shot from long range moments later to give Salisbury a 52-50 lead with 2:06 to play. And Reichenbach’s trey with 46 seconds to play put the Falcons back up once again.
Unfortunately, the Rough Riders had the ball in their hands on the last possession. And they made the most of it behind their offensive leader.
“I think it was our offensive execution,” Weaver said of the difference between the two meetings, the first in which Salisbury won by double digits. “Every game in the past two weeks [we’ve been] down in the fourth quarter. We pulled out Wilson. We pulled out Palmerton. We pulled out Pottsville. We pulled out Moravian. I’m hoping that it sort of inspires us to give more effort the first 30 minutes of the ballgame, or 28 minutes, whatever it is.”
Catasauqua jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead before Salisbury was able to muster up some offense. Once the Falcons got within 10-9, no team led by more than four points over the first three quarters. The biggest issue was that the hosts could not pull away when they made a mini run on their home court, even with 23 points and 21 boards from Jaxon Costello.
“It’s frustrating because the team has some ability, but we’re not always focused,” Weaver said. “You’re down double-digits to Palmerton in the third or fourth quarter, we’re down 15 to Pottsville at the half., we’re down seven to Moravian on Wednesday, every game is a struggle. Every game is down to the wire. Eventually a bounce here, a bounce there, or a call is not going to go your way.”
Results from Tuesday’s game at Palisades were not available at time of press. Salisbury will next travel to Northwestern on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The Falcons finish out the regular season with games at Northern Lehigh Saturday and home against Southern Lehigh Tuesday. The league playoffs begin with quarterfinals Saturday, Feb. 11 and semifinals Wednesday, Feb. 15.