CHARLESTOWN — In a clash of top-five teams, Class 3A No. 5 Silver Creek had a seven-point lead with 3:09 to play, then went scoreless and committed five turnovers down the stretch as No. 1 Salem fought back for a 54-52 win in the championship of the Charlestown Sectional on Saturday night.
“We’ll replay that last 3:09 until next season,” Dragons coach Scott Schoen said. “It’s really tough to lose like that.”
Given that Creek has no seniors, the sting of the loss is something Schoen will likely use as a motivator between now and next season.
“I can’t be more proud of this team,” he said. “And we have them all back.”
Down 40-37 going into the fourth quarter, Silver Creek tied it at 42 on a field goal by junior guard Alana Striverson. Those were two of her game-high 25 points.
The Dragons trailed 45-44 when sophomore Emme Rooney knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers. Striverson added two free throws and the Dragons led 52-45 with a little more than three minutes left.
With 2:04 to play, Salem’s Karly Sweeney hit two free throws to make it a five-point game. After that, Salem (22-3) turned up the heat on defense.
Creek turned it over on three straight possessions and that led to Salem going to the free throw line three times. Sweeney hit 3 of 4 fouls shots before Natalie Noel hit two more to tie it at 52 inside the final minute.
“I think we got a little nervous with the ball,” Schoen said. “Little things that separate winning, and not winning, the sectional.”
Silver Creek would have one last turnover, a five-second call, with 13 seconds left in the game. On the Salem’s final possession, Sweeney split defenders and hit a driving layup with a little more than one second left to give the Lions their third straight sectional title.
“Bottom line, we were up seven with three minutes left – it’s just basketball,” Schoen said.
Silver Creek played from behind for much of the first half, but fought back to take a slim lead at the break.
The Lions led 5-0 when Striverson had a driving three-point play to make it 5-3 at the 5:36 mark of the first quarter. Salem then put together a 6-0 run to lead 11-3.
A timeout by Creek ended the Lions’ momentum. The Dragons came out of the TO firing. A 3-pointer by junior guard Jaclyn Emly and another field goal by Striverson made it 11-8.
It was 13-8 when Emly knocked down her second 3 of the quarter to make it a one possession game. Salem responded with a 5-0 surge to lead 18-11 at the end of the quarter.
Down seven, Silver Creek surged to start the second. A 3 by Striverson, followed by a pair of field goals from Rooney and Kynidi Striverson made for a 7-0 Dragons’ run to tie it at 18 midway through the period.
From there it was back-and-forth, with three ties, until the end of the half. Creek trailed 25-23 when Emly knocked down a 3 to give the Dragons their first lead, 26-25, inside the final minute. That was the score at the break.
Salem looked to pull away in the third, building a 37-31 lead with 3:17 to play in the period. Alana Striverson helped the Dragons respond. Her two 3-pointers pulled Creek to within three (40-37) going into the fourth.
For the game, Sweeney scored 19 points to lead Salem. Emly added nine and Rooney eight for Silver Creek, which finished with 11 3-pointers.
The Lions advance to next Saturday’s Charlestown Regional.
CLASS 3A SECTIONAL 30 Final Saturday at Charlestown SALEM 54, SILVER CREEK 52
Silver Creek 11 15 11 15 — 52
Salem 18 7 15 14 — 54
Silver Creek (21-4): Alana Striverson 25, Jaclyn Emly 9, Emme Rooney 8, Kynidi Striverson 4, Abby Grimm 6.
Salem (22-4): Karly Sweeney 19, Hope Tomlinson 8, Natalie Noel 10, Abigail Ratts 9, Callie Backherms 6, Collette Nice 2.
3-point field goals: Silver Creek 11 (A. Striverson 4, Emly 3, Grimm 2, Rooney 2); Salem 7 (Tomlinson 2, Backherms 2, Noel 2, Sweeney 1).