Salisbury girls battle through key injuries
Salisbury lost two key players against Moravian Academy back on Dec. 22, including leading scorer senior Sarah McGee. Madison Bettuccio also left with an injury against the Lions, and neither has returned to the court since.
With Salisbury hovering around the .500 mark near the midway point of the season, the Falcons are hoping to stay within striking distance of a postseason berth until those two return.
After two overtime wins against Palmerton (51-48 in double overtime) and Catasauqua (38-32) last week, the Falcons’ brief two-game win streak was snapped against one of the Colonial League’s top teams. Northwestern (8-3 overall; 6-1 in Colonial League) used a 22-8 spurt in the first quarter to down the Falcons, 50-24, on Saturday afternoon at Salisbury High School.
“If everything goes well and she [McGee] gets [her cast] off, maybe by the last four or five games we might have her back,” head coach Mladosich said. “We have to stay close enough now without her to play the teams we can play with. Obviously, Northwestern is very good. Even with them, it would be a tall task to beat them.”
McGee is expected to have the cast removed near the end of the month after fracturing her wrist. Bettuccio’s return is a bit more uncertain.
Nonetheless, Saturday’s defeat to a solid Northwestern team was one in which the Falcons’ offensive woes were clear as day.
A 22-8 deficit was tough enough to overcome, but Northwestern pitted Salisbury into an even deeper hole. The Tigers outscored the hosts 8-0 in the second period, and the Falcons faced a 30-8 deficit at halftime they wouldn’t recover from.
“I think they have a lot of seniors, so those kids have been around for awhile,” Mladosich said. “And they are tall. They have nice size. Their guards are very good. They have a nice team.”
Northwestern got a large portion of its first-half scoring from senior center Leighanna Lister, who scored 12 points through two quarters and 15 for the game. Throw in the fact that Salisbury was without Bettuccio, its tallest defender, and the upward climb was steep.
Lister grabbed four rebounds and scored three points in the third quarter, and the Tigers separated themselves even more. She sat out for the entire fourth quarter, along with much of the rest of the starters.
“And Bettuccio is taller; she is 5-10 and she can get us some rebounds, at least competitive ones,” Mladosich said. “But it hurts when they’re not there.
“The seniors have to step up and hit some shots. Their effort is better.”
And the upperclassmen have stepped up in McGee’s absence thus far to keep the Falcons within contention of a district playoff spot.
Senior Alicia Burkhardt, who led Salisbury with 8 points, scored 17 against Catasauqua. Sophomore Olivia Hoeing added 13 against the Rough Riders. Senior Kelly Gardus scored 13 in the double-overtime win against Palmerton.
The Falcons (5-6 overall; 4-3 Colonial League) were in third place in the Colonial League West Division heading into Tuesday’s game against Pen Argyl, which was played after Press deadline. They follow that with games at Southern Lehigh (Thursday) and at Wilson (Monday).