Falcons knock off Spartans
With the upcoming A-Town Throwdown basketball tournament set for this week, the Salisbury boys’ basketball team will get a bit of a break from summer league play at Cedar Beach Park.
But when the Falcons do return to the court, they will be the No. 3 seed in the Small School Division playoffs in the Cedar Beach Summer League that begin on July 30. It’s easy to say that Salisbury might be playing its best basketball of the summer right now.
The Falcons capped regular season play with an overtime win against rival Southern Lehigh on Thursday. It was the Spartans’ first loss during summer league play.
“The game went well,” rising junior guard Quintin Stephens said. “We had good ball movement, and both teams started out fast. We closed the game on a big three-point shot.”
“We are playing much better defensively,” said head coach Jason Weaver. “And we are getting contributions from eight to 10 guys each game, which is very nice to see.”
Prior to handing Southern Lehigh its only loss of the summer, Salisbury defeated a tough East Penn Conference team in Pleasant Valley last Tuesday, 55-46. Those two victories capped a four-game win streak in summer league play since a loss to Palmerton just days after winning the Bash at the Beach tournament championship in June.
Stephens believes winning that tournament championship at the Bash at the Beach tournament has propelled the Falcons to another level.
“I think winning that small school championship was huge for the program,” Stephens said. “Now we know what we are capable of doing.
“I feel that the team is playing great. We are building great chemistry heading into the playoffs and the winter season.”
That chemistry was seen early and often against Pleasant Valley. The Falcons raced out to an impressive 18-0 lead and held onto a double-digit lead going into halftime at 29-18.
After a basket from Quinn Warmkessel early in the second half, Trey Weber’s basket gave the Falcons a 39-24 lead. The Bears got within five points with a gritty run, but Weber halted that spurt with another clutch jumper.
Stephens drilled a three-pointer from the top of the arc, and Stephens then found Weber in transition to give Salisbury its double-digit lead back at 48-37 in the final minutes.
“The team is definitely getting better,” Stephens said. “We have a lot of young guys that are improving as the summer goes along.”
For Stephens, he’s using this summer to assert himself more as a vocal leader on defense, something that Weaver has been stressing from his team going back to last winter season. If the Falcons buy in on the defensive end of the court, they’ll be a much-improved team on offense. And it seems that message may finally be getting through to the Falcons.
“The biggest thing for me is to talk on the court and be that leader on defense, because half of the time we are very quiet,” Stephens said. “If we fix that and talk more on defense, the better we will be.”
As the No. 3 seed, Salisbury will face No. 6 Lincoln Leadership on July 30. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Cedar Beach Court 4.