There’s no question that the Greensburg Salem boys basketball team can shoot, but even when they don’t put up a lot of points, the Golden Lions can rely on their stifling defense to give opponents some problems. They did just that Tuesday at Mt. Pleasant, holding the Vikings to single digits in all four quarters on the way to a 52-26 Section 3-AAA win.
“I thought our kids played with a lot of effort,” Mt. Pleasant coach Tom Traynor said. “They did a real good job defensively on us. It was just one of those ball games.”
Greensburg Salem didn’t lack offense, with Paul Matthews scoring a game-high 16 points and Aaron Allen adding 13. Zack Ruffner scored 10. But the team’s defense was clearly the star of the show, with points a little hard to come by for both sides early in the contest.
“We had good looks, but it was hard to get Paul (Matthews) the ball in the first half,” Greensburg Salem coach Paul Sapotichne said.
In the first quarter, it seemed difficult for anyone to sink a shot, but the Golden Lions (20-1, 13-0) still managed to gain an 8-4 edge in the face of the Vikings’ triangle-and-two defense.
“I thought Mt. Pleasant had a good game plan,” Sapotichne said of the Vikings’ defensive formation. “We’re very prepared for that, but it’s a little bit different.”
The Golden Lions’ practice paid off, as Alex Walton was able to break through Mt. Pleasant’s defenders for a pair of second-quarter baskets. Chet Welc put in four of his team-high 10 points for the Vikings, but Greensburg Salem led, 19-11, at the half.
Tyler Wadsworth kept Mt. Pleasant in the game by hitting a couple of 3-pointers in the first part of the third quarter, but an eight-point run late in the period had the Golden Lions ahead, 42-19. Matthews and Ruffner each hit from the perimeter, and Allen sank two baskets to pad its comfortable lead.
Greensburg Salem protected that lead in the final period to head home with the victory.
Traynor said the Vikings (11-9, 7-7) played well until the Golden Lions’ prolific scoring streak in the third quarter.
“I thought, in some ways, we competed very well with them,” he said. “We just needed to get a couple more key baskets.”