SALEM — Coming off a tough loss to Pinkerton last Friday, the Salem High School girls’ basketball team got back on track with a 56-41 win over Bedford in Division I on Tuesday.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Despite the fact Salem held a small lead early in the second quarter, coach Ricky Oliver felt his team was allowing the Bulldogs to dictate play on the offensive end. With 2:41 remaining in the period, Oliver called for a timeout in an effort to both stop the 10-2 run Bedford was on as well as remind his players what they needed to do.
“(After that timeout) I thought we got partially back to Salem basketball,” Oliver said. “They were taking us out of the sets that we’ve been working on for the last few days. We’ll get back to practice tomorrow, we’ll nail it all down and we’ll get ready for Friday.”
Following the timeout, the Blue Devils (6-1) went on a 10-2 run of their own to end the first half.
Carly Saif (14 points) and Emily Doucette (12 points) sandwiched a three apiece around a Saphia Mumpini layup for Bedford (4-2), and back-to-back layups for Saif and Jordyn Franzen (14 points) put Salem ahead 29-23 going into the halftime break.
“They just started executing their offense really well,” said Bedford coach Kevin Gibbs, who took over for Sue Thomas last week when she was fired. “They would attack and kick, attack and kick, and they were patient. We weren’t recovering quickly enough to the outside shooters and that was key. They started hitting some outside shots and once they did that we started to get in a little bit of a hole. The deeper the hole you dig, the more you try to get it all back at once. That’s when we started falling further and further behind.”
Saif and Franzen proved to be huge for Salem coming out of the half, combining to score six of the 12 points Salem scored in the third period. Solid as ever, Franzen did her part by burying a pair of free throws and setting up her teammates for open looks as a distributor. Saif was the beneficiary in some of those situations, and her performance felt like a long time coming.
“(Saif) was a little disappointed in her last two or three games, so she asked for special time,” Oliver said. “I’ve come early, stayed late and got her some shots and she felt confident today.”
“I’ve definitely been working hard in practice against my teammates just trying to get better,” Saif said. “Making sure I finish at the basket and things like that.”
Allison Morgan led all Bedford scorers with 11 points, scoring six in the first half and another five in the second.
The fourth quarter turned into a free throw laden affair. With Bedford trying to claw its way back into the game, the Bulldogs extended pressure full court and caused some issues for Salem. Their aggressiveness eventually got the best of them, though, as they reached 10 team fouls to put the Blue Devils in the double bonus, meaning Salem would receive two free throws on every foul.
In all, Salem knocked down 10-of-13 free throws in the final frame, while also playing solid defense to prevent Bedford from making a serious comeback.
“We just tried to take care of the ball and get each other open as much as possible,” Franzen said. “Then wait for the foul because we were in the bonus and just took as much advantage of the opportunity as we could.”