Salem backcourt makes statement in victory at Westland John Glenn
Knocking down three-point shots like they were layups, Salem’s boys basketball team held a first-half launch party Tuesday night in Westland John Glenn‘s gymnasium, which is appropriately dubbed “The Launch Pad”.
Senior guard Brendan Phillips drained six threes in the first half (the school record for an entire game is eight) to propel the Rocks to a 41-28 lead in a game they would go on to win handily, 77-66.
Phillips, who finished with 21 after drawing considerably more attention from the Rockets after his game-opening Steph Curry imitation, shared the spotlight with junior guard Ryan Peters, who netted 29 points, five steals and eight rebounds while handling the ball nearly flawlessly against John Glenn’s smothering pressure.
Despite playing through foul trouble most of the contest, Salem senior guard Pryor Reynolds made an impact, scoring 11 points with six rebounds and three steals. Reynolds’ biggest play of the night may have been a thread-the-needle-through-traffic assist to Phillips, whose reverse layup extended the Rocks’ lead to 73-61 with 3:25 to play after John Glenn had generated a momentum-shifting run.
No height, no problem
Salem, whose primary rotation doesn’t include a player over 6-foot-1, improved to 3-2. John Glenn is 0-2, according to KLAASports.org.
“Obviously, we’re not tall, but we have good ball-handlers, a good backcourt and we can shoot the ball,” said Salem Coach Ryan Nimmerguth. “We shot the ball well tonight and we pushed the tempo. We just want to play at our tempo. When we want to push, we’re going to push. But at the end, like you saw, we know how to slow it down.”
Junior Jordan Williams led the Rockets with 22 points. He was money from the free-throw line, swishing nine of 11 attempts.
Senior Richard Williams (16 points) and Jalen Clark (14 points, 12 rebounds) also played well for the hosts.
Nimmerguth said the Rockets’ quickness was a top concern heading into the Kensington Lakes Activities Association cross-over clash.
“They’re explosive off the dribble; there’s a lot of downhill dribbling to the lane,” Nimmerguth said. “Our focus was to keep them out of the middle of the lane. Even though we focused on that, they still got to the lane more times than I would have liked, but they have some really good guards.
“Our off guys did a great job of limiting their other players and our defensive rebounding was huge, too.”
Salem’s 13-point halftime lead was due largely to the marksmanship of Phillips, who had 19 at the break.
“Brendan is a really good shooter and a three-year senior for us,” Nimmerguth said. “He worked really hard during the off-season and it’s paying off.”
Peters was a baseline-to-baseline difference-maker for Salem, demoralizing the Rockets with clutch play after clutch play.
“Ryan has a solid all-around game; he can score from outside, take it to the basket and he did a great job tonight of driving, drawing defenders to him and distributing the ball to wide-open teammates who hit wide-open threes,” Nimmerguth said.
John Glenn sank 19 of 24 free throws while Salem made 14 of 21.
Despite the game’s frantic pace, both teams took care of the ball reasonably well.
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