Taking advantage of a quick start in which it scored the first 12 points Monday night, Salmen never trailed and defeated Covington 56-48 in one of the last predistrict warmups for both teams.
Salmen (11-2) was led by Chris Vickers, who had a game-high 18 points. Corey Vinson had 12 and Jordan Morris and Cody Rudolph each had six points.
The Lions (4-12) were led by George Brister’s 15 points and Nick Cyprian’s 13 points. Marquez Morigny also had nine points.
“We knew coming into this game, we were the bigger team, and that was something we wanted to take advantage of,” Vickers said. “We were able to do that early on. We were able to get the ball into the post and get points in bunches, especially breaking out to the 12-0 lead.”
Rust from the Christmas break was evident for both teams and Salmen took advantage early on, breaking out to a 12-0 lead on baskets by Vickers, Vinson and Rudolph. Taking advantage of size inside, Salmen held Covington without a point until a basket by Brister with 3:15 to go in the opening quarter.
Covington did not go away easily, however, and a 6-0 run early in the first quarter cut the lead to 16-11.
The second quarter was the showcase for the Covington defense, as the Lions held Salmen to only three field goals. Back-to-back baskets by Cyprian to end the half cut the lead to 24-20.
Covington got as close as one point on multiple occasions and tied the game at 30 with 3:47 to go in the third quarter on a Brister basket. However, the Lions could get over the hump to take the lead.
“When the game gets close like that you just have to stay calm and run the offense that you practice every single day,” Vickers said. “We did that and got the points and the defensive stops when we needed them the most. That is how good teams win games.”
Salmen responded after the Brister 3-pointer to tie the game by scoring nine of the next 13 points to take back the lead and control of the game at 39-34 at the end of the third quarter.
Salmen coach Jay Carlin was pleased with his team’s performance, particularly early in the game.
“I thought the first 5-6 minutes of the game we were playing well,” he said. “Particularly defensively. We came down on offense and did what we were trying to do as a team and made some shots. We were good. As the game progressed, we struggled at times and you have to get credit to Covington. They are a good team and gave us problems. But in the end, we played good enough to win.”