Salisbury faces Wilson in district quarterfinal
Salisbury head coach Jason Weaver was pretty confident for the past two weeks that he knew who the Falcons’ district opponent would be. And recently it became official when the District 11 Class 4A field was set.
The No. 5 seeded Falcons will travel to Northern Lehigh on Friday night to take on No. 4 seed Wilson, a team Salisbury is certainly familiar with. Game time is set for 7:45 p.m. as the second game of a doubleheader.
“Obviously having played them before and knowing what we can improve on is a good thing,” Weaver said. “We’ve been working on our game plan for them. It’s probably in some ways easier to prepare because it’s a team we’ve played before and a team that we’ve seen on film, opposed to a team like Tamaqua or Becahi.”
One area of focus over the past couple of weeks of practice has been dealing with the expected pressure and 1-3-1 zone defense of Wilson. Jihad Range, a 6-7 senior center, plays at the top of that zone and caused issues for Salisbury in the regular-season meeting.
Salisbury actually held a decent-sized lead early against the Warriors before a tough stretch in the second quarter was the decisive factor. Wilson defeated the Falcons back in mid-December, 60-50.
“We have to be better against their pressure and against that 1-3-1,” Weaver said. “We have to be able to get shot attempts. I think in the second quarter we were up 19-11 at one point, but then we were down four at half because we only had four or five shot attempts in that second quarter. We were turning the ball over.”
And while Range, a Colonial League First Team All-Star, finished in double figures scoring, it’s his defense that might be tougher to overcome.
“He scored, I think, 17 or 18 against us [in the regular season] and a lot of those were off putbacks and offensive boards,” Weaver said. “I think his disruption on the defensive end was probably just as important. He’s up at the top of that 1-3-1 zone, and we struggled to pass over him.”
Range isn’t the only Warrior that Weaver and the Falcons must worry about. Seniors Derelle McKinney and Charbel Ghaleb have been playing on the varsity stage for four years, and senior Samuel Brown is a scorer that can get hot quickly. Senior Matthew Glovas is a 3-point shooter that can’t be left open.
“They’re experienced,” Weaver said. “They have two guys in McKinney and Ghaleb that have been starting since they were freshman. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Friday’s game will end a two-year playoff drought for the Falcons. And while it came up just short of the Colonial League playoffs, Salisbury will hope to make its noise in the loaded Class 4A tournament.
“I’m really happy for the seniors, like Patrick [Foley], Trey [Weber] and Joe [Panariello], to have that chance to play in a playoff game,” Weaver said. “It’s a different atmosphere. To get that extra practice in is a good thing. And for the younger guys, it’s something to shoot for. We missed out on the league playoffs by a half of a game.”
The three other Class 4A boys quarterfinal matchups are as follows: No. 1 seed Central Catholic faces No. 8 Palisades; No. 2 Bethlehem Catholic faces No. 7 Northwestern; and No. 3 Tamaqua faces No. 6 Pine Grove.