Boys fall to Bombers
The Salisbury boys’ basketball team has pushed the Colonial League’s top team and another likely playoff squad late in games over the past two weeks. But much like Moravian Academy coming through at the end a week-and-a-half ago, Palmerton was able to separate itself in the final moments as well.
After erasing a 12-point lead early in the third quarter, the Falcons clawed back within one point with 3:10 to play, putting the Blue Bombers’ league playoff hopes in jeopardy. But Palmerton (11-8 overall; 8-6 in Colonial League) closed the game on a 13-5 spurt to secure a 72-63 victory at Salisbury High School on Monday night.
Palmerton is currently tied with Northern Lehigh at 8-6 in the standings for the sixth and final playoff spot. The two teams face off in the regular season finale next Tuesday.
“We’re just not getting enough stops,” Salisbury head coach Jason Weaver said. “We’re making it too easy for the other team offensively, and it’s real scrap and fight to get back into it. And it’s still a one-point game at one point.
“We lost to them by four up [in Palmerton], but it was the same thing where we buried ourselves early and had to keep scrapping all the way back. We’re not good enough defensively. It looks good when we’re knocking shots down and scoring, but if we’re not getting stops down at the other end, there’s no reward for it.”
And the Falcons (7-12; 4-10) were hitting their shots all night, particularly in the third quarter when they erased a 43-32 deficit after the Bombers’ 1,000-point scorer Justin Hosier hit an open jump shot that forced Weaver to call a timeout just 18 seconds into the second half.
Jack Frankenfield scored on a put back with 1:55 remaining in the third that got Salisbury within 50-44. Tommy Sylvester added two free throws moments later. And then Joe Panariello hit his second shot from long range in the period as time expired to pull the host Falcons to within 52-49.
Hosier kept the Blue Bombers afloat in the third quarter by scoring nine of Palmerton’s 11 points. He finished with 18 on the night.
“[Hosier] knocked down some shots,” Weaver said. “I said to give him some credit—he made some shots with a guy in his face…We tried to go man early and they picked us apart. We go to zone, and we’re giving up open looks.”
The Falcons got within one point on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter despite never regaining the lead. The latest was after Quintin Stephens attacked the hoop to get Salisbury within 59-58 with 3:10 to play.
But after a Blue Bomber basket on the next possession, Nate Dougherty sliced into the paint and found Owen Buck on a wrap-around pass for a three-point play that helped Palmerton regain control at 64-58 with 2:05 left.
Sylvester kept Salisbury’s hopes alive with a 3-pointer that brought the score to 64-61. But Dougherty, who finished with a game-high 22 points, got to the basket on Palmerton’s next possession for an easy layup to all but seal the win.
“No one steps in to help,” Weaver said. “The help was not there. We can’t keep giving up 20-point quarters. We don’t get enough stops. We’re scoring enough to win. We had three guys in double figures. That should be enough to win. We can’t keep giving up 70.”
Sean Snyder had one of his best shooting nights of the season, going 5-for-7 from 3-point range for a team-high 15 points. He hit clutch shots in each quarter to give Salisbury much-needed baskets when it needed them most.
Quinn Warmkessel finished with 13 points for Salisbury, including nine in the first quarter, despite dealing with foul trouble for much of the night. Panariello added 12 points.
Salisbury hosts Palisades on Thursday for a 6:45 p.m. tip off.
The Falcons finish their season with games against Northwestern Lehigh (Friday) and Southern Lehigh (Thursday). They were 10th in the district rankings through Monday’s game. While they can no longer finish the season .500 in the league or overall, they could likely move into the top eight in Class 4A with wins in a few or all of those final games to secure a district playoff berth.