Salem starts Salukis down wrong route

Staff photo by Rodney Lopez

Red Hill's Nathan Wirth (20) and Gavin Volkman (41) stretch over Salem's Trent Boles (42) and Cade Alberson for a rebound Friday in the Lawrence County Capital Classic at Bridgeport, Ill.

BRIDGEPORT, Ill. — Red Hill's first offensive play worked, a Camren Ray runner, but the Salukis had little else go right against Salem in the Lawrence County Capital Classic boys basketball opener on Friday.

The Wildcats scored the next 12 points, were near flawless in a dominant first half, and romped to a 66-33 victory.

Haddon Lybarger had 14 points in the opener for Salem, which shot 64 percent in the opening half without a turnover in forging a 37-15 lead. Ray tallied 13 points for the Salukis (1-1) and Drake Allen chipped in seven points and five rebounds.

"They set flair screens, shuffle screens and flex screens, and it was vital to us that we kept communicating. We played defense at times well for 10-15 seconds, then we had a breakdown and gave them a good look," Red Hill coach Bryan Havill said. "They can definitely shoot it, and we didn't help ourselves.

"Early on, it was a perfect storm against us. We were shaky on offense, and once we settled in we got some shots we loved for different kids to have, but weren't making any."

Lybarger's 3-pointer ended the Wildcats 12-point roll. Nathan Wirth hit a free throw with 3:06 to go in the quarter to cut the gap to 12-3, but it was the last point for Red Hill in the quarter.

Salem took a 16-3 edge after one, then made its first four shots in the second quarter to take the lead to 24-8. The Wildcats, who were 7-of-14 from 3-point range, had Lybarger, Quintin Purcell and Luke Light hit trifecats in the last three minutes of the half to build a 22-point halftime lead.

Laten Weyer and Caden Bee had 12 and 10 points for Salem, which finished 27-of-46 shooting for 59 percent to go with six turnovers.

Anthony Jerrell came off the bench to have five for the Salukis. Wirth, the team's top inside player, was bottled up and shot 0-for-7.

"Nathan was upset with himself after the game, and I'm glad he wasn't happy, but I was telling him it was just our second game," Havill said. "We know how this tournament is set up, that's it going to be a battle for us. We're going to play good teams after this tournament too, but we're not going to play teams that are any better."

It was more of the same in the nightcap as Olney dropped Red Hill, 60-25.

Braden Flanagan hit all three of his 3-point attempts and scored 19 to pace the Tigers (1-1), who lost to Fairfield earlier Friday, 65-47. Chase Travis added 16.

Wirth scored eight and Allen six for the Salukis (1-2).

Red Hill hosts Fairfield at 10 a.m. CST today with a fourth Capital Classic game later today.

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