Spartans win back-to-back

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Chance Staples of Salem drives to the hoop in last
week’s game against Pulaski County. PHOTO BY BRIAN HOFFMAN

The Salem boys have won back-to-back basketball games for the first time this season, and both were on the road. Salem beat William Byrd in Vinton on Monday, then defeated Christiansburg in the Blue Demons’ gym on Tuesday.

“The kids have played hard all season, and it’s nice to see them get some reward,” said Salem coach Kevin Garst.

On Monday in Vinton Salem evened the season series with the Terriers with a 62-47 win. The Spartans outscored Byrd 31-15 in the first half and were never threatened after intermission. Alex Blanchard led the Salemites with 19 points and Isaiah Donaldson had 17. Donaldson also had five assists and Josh Bryan had 11 rebounds.

On Tuesday at Christiansburg Blanchard had 27 points in a 67-58 Salem win. Donaldson had 13, Malcom Firebaugh had 12, all on threes, and Garrison Conner hit two clutch threes down the stretch to help Salem seal the deal.

Salem trailed by 14 points in the first half at Christiansburg before rallying for the win. The Spartans cut the lead to four by halftime, then went behind by eight in the second half. However, once Salem caught up the Spartans pulled away and swept the season series with the Blue Demons.

The two wins lifted the Spartans to 5-12 on the season after losing back-to-back games against Pulaski County and Patrick Henry last week. On Thursday Pulaski was here for a game that was snowed out on Tuesday and the Cougars got out of town with a 74-60 win. Then, on Friday, the Spartans got drilled at PH, 88-45. The Patriots were up 58-22 by the half.

“It was as bad as it looked,” said Garst. “Patrick Henry shot the lights out.”

Salem will try to make it three in a row this Friday when they play host to Hidden Valley for a River Ridge District game. Next week the Spartans have three more home games, hosting Blacksburg on Tuesday, Cave Spring on Thursday and Glenvar on Saturday, February 3, for the Adam Ward Classic.