Salisbury didn’t enter the winter basketball season with many seniors on its roster. But as of late, the Falcons haven’t had a single senior take the court.
Jack Reichenbach and Oliver Stewart were the lone two seniors for Salisbury when it tipped off this season. But both have not been on the court over the past few games. Those absences have opened the door for a number of underclassmen to shine, and the Falcons have been surprisingly effective in what has been a tough season.
Last Friday night was dedicated to Salisbury’s five senior girls basketball players: Anna Bishop, Alicia Burkhardt, Olivia Dragovits, Kelly Gardus and Sarah McGee. After the players were honored prior to the start of the game, the Falcons played arguably their best game of the season on Senior Night.
The Falcons made their first seven shots against visiting Catasauqua, led 20-0 after the first quarter, and never looked back. Salisbury (8-10 overall; 6-7 in Colonial League), led by a starting group of five seniors that played the entire first half, defeated the Rough Riders 55-17.
Tyler Keller’s college diving career was put on hold before he even took one bounce off the board.
During a pick-up basketball game with some friends in September, the Lehigh freshman broke his fifth metatarsal. Surgery kept Keller out for the first half of the winter diving season.
“About a week later I got surgery, and three screws and one plate were installed on my foot to hold the bone in place,” Keller said.
For almost a decade, Jonah Niesenbaum’s athletic career revolved around ice hockey.
But after nine years, Niesenbaum traded in his skates for wrestling headgear. Since the transition during his sophomore year at Salisbury, the Falcon junior has not looked back.
“By the end of it, I had a good ice hockey season and it was a pretty tough wrestling season my first year, but I just fell in love with it,” Niesenbaum said. “It is weird because ice hockey is my go-to sport and I’ve built a foundation there. But wrestling is so independent and so intense, and I love that.”
Due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, a number of Salisbury girls basketball underclassmen were forced into larger roles than the coaching staff had planned for this season.
After losing two starters to injury in leading scorer Sarah McGee and Salisbury’s tallest player in Madison Bettuccio, voids were left. But a number of freshmen and sophomores have filled in nicely for head coach Joe Mladosich.
Salisbury junior Sarah Bobeck fully dedicated her future to swimming prior to her sophomore year. And since then, she’s become one of the area’s most consistent high school swimmers.
Bobeck, after earning two top-four finishes at districts as a freshman, took leaps in her second season. She won the 500-yard freestyle as a sophomore at districts and placed in the top 25 swimmers in two events at the PIAA Class 2A Championships last winter.
Much of that credit goes to her full attention that she has given to swimming over the past couple of years.
In its two Colonial League victories last week against Pen Argyl (65-53) and Southern Lehigh (44-43), one thing that Salisbury did well was close out the game.
But Monday against Wilson, the Falcons had trouble putting together a full 32 minutes of basketball.
Leading from the opening tipoff and by as much as 10 points in the third quarter, Salisbury could not hold on in the fourth. Wilson (8-5 overall; 7-3 in Colonial League) outscored the Falcons 24-10 in the final eight minutes to earn the 56-49 victory at Salisbury High School.
Despite how well of a start the Salisbury girls’ basketball team had against Pen Argyl last week, the Lady Falcons suddenly found themselves in a bit of trouble.
Without the team’s leading scorer still sidelined, Sarah McGee is still sidelined with an injury, a couple of senior leaders helped Salisbury pull away when it needed them most.
Senior Kelly Gardus helped break a scoring drought in third quarter, and classmate Alicia Burkhardt scored seven in the fourth to push Salisbury (6-8 overall; 5-5 in Colonial League) to a 38-25 victory last Tuesday on its home court.
Baseball great Yogi Berra once noted “it gets late early around here.” That could apply to Salisbury’s boys basketball season as the Falcons hope to qualify for a spot in the district tournament. The season is only at the halfway mark, but it seems much later for the Falcons, who need a dramatic turnaround from their 1-6 Colonial League record and their overall 1-10 record on the season.
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.