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Salem clinches berth in state championship
The Spartans overcame a pregame technical to earn a 76-69 win and trip to the finals.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
RICHMOND - Technically speaking, Salem's Group AA Division 4 boys basketball semifinal was not an artistic success.
And the gray uniforms the Spartans wore against Potomac Falls will not be seen Saturday inside VCU's Siegel Center.
However, Salem will return as the Spartans overcame a bizarre, pregame technical foul to post a 76-69 victory over Potomac Falls and earn a berth in Saturday night's championship game
Before any time had ticked off the clock, Salem found itself trailing 2-0 after the Spartans were assessed a technical foul for violating a national federation rule that requires "home" teams to wear all-white uniforms.
It was the second time in three years a River Ridge District team received a pregame technical foul in a semifinal game against Potomac Falls. Christiansburg drew a "T" in 2011 for unsportsmanlike pregame warmup, leading to a season-ending 59-44 loss.
Potomac Falls' D'shawn Shorts made both technical free throws, and it appeared Salem might be headed for the same fate.
Instead, the Spartans answered every challenge from the talented Panthers as they broke away from a 58-all tie with 18 points in the final four minutes to clinch their second berth in the championship game in the last four years.
"I think that technical at the beginning of the game was good for us, actually," Salem senior Matt Hill said. "It brought us together and brought a little fire under us.
"I'll be the first one to tell you we were out-talented, but we play so well together as a unit that we're going to be fine against anybody."
Salem got major contributions from just about everyone on the floor.
Junior Troy Mann scored a game-high 26 points. Hill had 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Alex Light had 10 boards and two free throws that put Salem up 65-60 with 1:53 to play.
Guard Will Pratt had 15 points including four 3-pointers. Guard John Repass hit just one basket but it was huge, giving the Spartans their first lead of the game at 22-21 in the second quarter.
Reserve guard DeVonte Joyce had a game-high four assists and put Salem ahead to stay at 60-58 on a drive midway through the final quarter. Backup forward Shawn McDaniel hit all three of the shots he took.
It all added up to a Salem team that started the season 4-8 defeating a team that won back-to-back Division 4 state titles in 2010 and 2011 and was a semifinalist last year.
"That's a good team," Potomac Falls coach Jeff Hawes said of the Spartans. "We didn't underestimate them at all, didn't overlook them. "But my guys will tell you I'm not sure we played quite the best defense we've played all year.
"I think that's the most points we've given up all year. We picked not a good time to do that. They hit some big shots."
Joyce's tiebreaking driving layup was fearless as he lofted it over a taller defender.
"DeVonte did a great job the whole game handling their pressure," Garst said. "When they do pressure you like that, you have to attack it and try to make them pay."
Mann followed with his three-point play, fouling out Potomac Falls' 6-7 center Steven Tondi in the process.
"Every time I see someone trying to set up for a charge I pull the 'Euro move' on them," Mann said. "He didn't even go for it."
Salem hit 12 of 13 free throws in the final 1:53 to ice the win. The Spartans finished 23 of 29 from the line and shot 55.8 percent from the field.
Sophomore Wanya Allen and reserve Deandre Thomas, a midseason transfer from Group AAA Herndon, led Potomac Falls (26-5) with 17 points.
Two months ago, Salem was 0-2 in the River Ridge District. Now the Spartans will face either Grafton or E.C. Glass in the championship game.
"It's the most exciting thing I've ever participated in in my life," Mann said. "I've always dreamed about it."
Don't count on the Spartans showing up in gray, however,
Garst, who was forced to remain seated for the entire game, said he was unaware of the rule that requires "home" teams to wear white uniforms.
"Me personally, I had absolutely no idea," Garst said. "I thought home uniforms ... we've worn them all year. I had no idea."
Salem again will be the "home" team. Do the Spartans even have a set of white uniforms?
"I need to talk with the JV coach to see about borrowing theirs," Garst said. "Actually, the guys were trying to talk me into another technical. I don't know if I can sit that long."
POTOMAC FALLS (26-5)
Janowski 4-18 4-6 12, Shorts 4-14 2-2 13, Allen 6-16 4-5 17, Orbe 1-3 0-0 2, Tondi 2-3 1-2 6, Barton 0-0 0-0 0, Fischetti 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 7-14 0-0 17, Mologne 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-70 11-15 69.
Mann 8-15,10-11 26, Hill 3-5 5-6 11, Light 3-6 3-3 9, Repass 1-2 0-0 3, Pratt 4-8 3-5 15, Joyce 2-4 0-0 4, McDaniel 3-3 1-2 7, Hudson 0-0 0-0 0, McCaleb 0-0 1-2 1, Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Marshall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-43 23-29 76.
Potomac Falls 16 17 13 23-69
Salem 11 19 24 22-76
3-point-goals - Potomac Falls 10-29 (Thomas 3-6, Shorts 3-10, Tondi 1-2, Orbe 1-3, Janowski 1-4, Allen 1-4), Salem 5-12 (Pratt 4-7, Repass 1-2, Joyce 0-1, Mann 0-2). Rebounds - Potomac Falls 35 (Janowski 9), Salem 35 (Hill 14). Assists - Potomac Falls 10 (Janowski, Orbe 3), Salem 16 (Joyce 4). Total fouls - Potomac Falls 24, Salem 12. Fouled out - Tondi, Allen.
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