By KEVIN HARRIS
The youthful Silver Creek Dragons have picked the right time of the season to get on a winning streak.
Host Silver Creek won its third game in a row on Friday night by defeating Mid-Southern Conference rival Salem, 53-30.
Dragons’ coach Brandon Hoffman said a winning streak at the start of the February was what he was hoping for from his team, which lost all five starters from last year’s squad.
“This is what we’ve been working for all year. Our goal was to peak at the end of the year,” said Hoffman, whose squad lost 10 of its first 13 contests. “We knew with a young team that it would be a process. Sometimes the results wouldn’t be great early in the year, but it has been a process and I think it’s starting to pay off.”
One of the key factors for Silver Creek (6-10, 1-5 MSC) during its winning streak has been its ballhandling. For the third consecutive contest, the Dragons committed only five turnovers.
“I’m by no means a rocket scientist. But even I know, there is a coincidence there,” Hoffman said.
While keeping their turnovers down, the Dragons were forcing the winless Lions (0-15, 0-7) into several miscues. Salem turned the ball over 21 times, including 13 in the first half. Those errors resulted in several buckets for Creek.
Lions’ coach Hank Weedin says turnovers have plagued his squad all season.
“Most of their points came off of our turnovers,” the former Charlestown High School player said. “That’s been the story of our season. In the first couple minutes of the [third] quarter, we jumped on them and chipped away at their lead a little bit, but we just turned the ball over way too much. We gave away uncontested layups at the other end and most of their free throws came off of our turnovers.”
Silver Creek applied full-court pressure throughout the game and mainly used a matchup zone defense in the half-court, as Salem shot only 11-of-29 from the field (37.9 percent).
Still, Hoffman was not completely satisfied with his defense.
“Our defense has been really good the last month, and we have a pretty high standard for that on our team. We turned the heat up when we needed to,” Hoffman said. “But I still don’t think it was very good. I think when we turned it on, sometimes it really didn’t bother them. I wish we could’ve done that the whole time.”
Silver Creek’s Gabe Bauer and Zach Davidson shared game-high scoring honors with 13 points apiece.
Bauer scored 11 points in the first half, as he was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Davidson had a big third quarter with eight points, which included knocking down two 3-pointers to help the Dragons build a 40-20 lead late in the period.
“They were both really aggressive for us,” Hoffman said. “Gabe did really well. His strength was attacking the basket and he was 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Zach had a great all-around game. I thought he was the most aggressive player on the court.”
Also for Silver Creek, Shae Durham scored eight points, Lucas Barnett snagged a team-high five rebounds and Layne Taylor made four steals.
Senior center Derek Catlett paced Salem with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Weedin was impressed with Silver Creek and thinks the Dragons are a team that MSC foes will have to reckon with in the future.
“They have a nice squad,” Weedin said. “They have good athletes. They crash the boards really hard and also have some really nice scorers. The Bauer kid is a really nice player. They’ve got some size and some guards who can handle the ball.”
Silver Creek will host Scottsburg (3-12, 2-6 MSC) on Thursday.