Salem Betters Rival Canton 50-49

8 Mar

“I knew I was going to make it” said Salem junior guard Allante Wheeler referring to his free-throw made with under five seconds left in the Rocks district final contest vs. rival Canton. “Before the game I shot around 50 free throws on that rim, plus I went to that line before and my form and everything felt good.”

After Canton senior Greg Williams tied the game with around one minute left in the contest, Salem decided to hold the ball for the final shot of the game.  With 16 seconds left, the Rocks made their move.  On the left wing, Wheeler took the ball to the rack, got fouled and hit one free-throw to send the Rocks to the MHSAA’s regional championships next weekend starting Monday.

With the win, Salem avenges an early season loss on December 13th against the Chiefs by a 60-56 decision.  A key in Salem’s transition from a loss vs. Canton to a win was the defense the Rocks implored on Eastern Michigan commit Jordan Nobles.  In the earlier matchup of the season, Nobles scored 18 points and 10 rebounds.  Vs. Canton in the district final, Nobles only had six points and 3 rebounds.

Coming off the bench and providing a lift for your team offensively in a playoff game is always difficult, however, Wheeler found success with his role of being the 6th man.  Wheeler knocked down his first shot, a three, and hit eight free throws the  entire game, most of which came in the fourth, to score a team high 13 points.

“I think I played 150% better than the first meeting between us” Wheeler had to say.  “I think that had a big outcome on the win but it was all set up by the team and coach.”

Salem held a one to five point lead throughout most of the ball game, and never trailed by more than three points in the first half.  After leading 15-11 at the end one, and thanks to guards Brady Cole, Connor Cole, and Alec Winfrey, the Rocks were able to build their largest lead of the game 24-17 with :55 seconds left in the first half.

Canton rallied in the third to eventually lead 34-33 after a Nobles bucket with 3:25 left in the quarter, however the Chiefs would never lead the rest of the game, the only time the game was tied was when Wheeler hit his game winning free-throw.

For Salem, Wheeler had 13 points and three rebounds, Brady Cole with 10 points, and Tyler Brooks had 8 points.

Canton was led by Davon Taylor with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and fellow senior Greg Williams had 19 points for the Chiefs.

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