Canton-Salem rivalry game goes down to the wire again

 Canton-Salem rivalry game goes down to the wire again

Canton forward Dante Favor finishes a layup Friday night against Salem. PHOTO: Autumn Thomas

Canton’s boys basketball team held a fourth-quarter free throw-shooting clinic Friday night in the Salem gym.

It’s a good thing, too, because the host Rocks were lighting up the place with net-finding threes.

Two weeks after the Chiefs nipped the Rocks on a beyond-half-court-buzzer-beating shot that somehow was left off ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the Day, Canton held off Salem, 64-57, to stay in the hunt for a Kensington Lakes Activities Association West Division title.

Now 7-2 in the West (and 9-7 overall), Canton is deadlocked with Howell and Brighton atop the division with four regular-season games remaining. Playing without point guard Pryor Reynolds, the Rocks slipped to 3-6 and 7-9, respectively.

Trees vs. threes

Canton won the game on the boards, outrebounding its hosts 26-13, and at the free throw line, where it swished 11 of 13 attempts in the fourth quarter alone. Junior point guard Caleb Williams connected on all six of his freebies in the closing minutes (and seven of eight for the game), finishing with 13 points.

Salem junior guard Ryan Peters looks for a crease in the Canton defense. PHOTO: Autumn Thomas
Salem junior guard Ryan Peters looks for a crease in the Canton defense PHOTO Autumn Thomas

The Chiefs, who took advantage of a significant height advantage, had four players reach double-digits in scoring. In addition to Williams’ solid effort, Bradley Eziuka and Dante Favor scored 12 while Omar Suleiman — the hero of the rivals’ January clash — added 11. Junior forward Devon Pettus netted seven points and four rebounds, and sophomore guard Teddy Winstel scored five.

Junior guard Ryan Peters was sensational for Salem, scoring 25 points — 13 in the fourth quarter. Despite drawing extra attention from the Chiefs’ defense, Peters repeatedly split defenders with slick dribbling and drained a series of long- and mid-range jumpers to keep the Rocks in the hunt.

Freshman forward Eric Milt Jr. gave Salem a jolt of energy off the bench, scoring eight points and blocking two shots.

Flyin’ Ryan

Peters’ free throws with 20.8 seconds left pulled Salem to within 60-57, but Canton was perfect from the free throw line down the stretch when the Rocks were forced to foul.

Salem led 32-30 at the half, but was held to just six points in the game-changing third quarter.

Ezuika pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. Favor was a defensive force in the paint for the victors, swatting away four shots.

The Rocks connected on nine triples and made 12 of 14 free throws.

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Ed Wright

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