Salem boys win for the third time in four games

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Alex Blanchard scores two of his game-high 27 points in Tuesday’s
win over Blacksburg. PHOTO BY BRIAN HOFFMAN

The Salem High boys are getting hot at the right time. The Spartans have won three of their last four games with the River Ridge District Tournament due to start next Friday, February 9.

Salem took a 68-63 win over Blacksburg in Salem Tuesday to improve to 6-13 on the season. It was the Spartans first win of the season in their home gym, as their previous five wins came on the road at Lord Botetourt, at Blacksburg, at William Byrd, at Christiansburg and over Lord Botetourt at the Salem Civic Center. Coach Kevin Garst would like to win another one at home tonight against Cave Spring when the Knights come to town.

“We’re playing a lot better right now,” said Garst. “We’ve improved in all areas. On defense, our overall technique is better and we’re understanding what we’re trying to do. On offense we’re making better decisions, making that extra pass. And we’re better when we get out in transition.”

Salem led for most of the game Tuesday against Blacksburg. The Spartans were up 10-5 after the first quarter and 26-25 at the half. The lead was back up to five at 45-40 after three quarters and the Bruins never caught them, although they were close right up to the end.

Isaish Donaldson and Alex Blanchard scored 53 of Salem’s 68 points. Blanchard had 17 points in the second half and finished with 27 while Donaldson had 26. Isaiah easily could have had 30, as he was uncharacteristically three-of-nine from the free throw line. Only four Spartans scored, as Josh Bryan had a dozen and Willie Plympton had three.

Salem’s only loss in the past four games was last Friday night against Hidden Valley in Salem. The Bruins ran their record to 14-4 with a 71-46 win over the Spartans. Donaldson had 18 to lead Salem.

“Their length hurt us,” said Garst. “They shot well and we never could get anything going. We were lucky to only be down 11 at the half, and they just ran away with it in the third quarter.”

Salem has only three regular season games remaining. After tonight’s home game with Cave Spring the Spartans will host Glenvar in the Adam Ward Classic at 1:30 pm Saturday. Next week they wrap up the regular season with a trip to Pulaski County on Wednesday, February 7.