Salmen head coach Jay Carlin knew his squad had its work cut out when it welcomed one of the state’s top 3A teams to Slidell.
The Spartans fought hard against the Sophie B. Wright Warriors, even holding a brief lead in the third quarter, before falling 62-51 in a recent nondistrict matchup.
Gregory Hammond led the way for the Warriors with 19 points, and Damiree Burns finished with 16. Charlie Russell also contributed 12 points on the night.
Rashawn Gallapsy led the way for Salmen with 16 points. Tahj Jackson had 12, Jaylen Williams had 11 and Devon Lizana had 10.
The fourth-ranked team in Class 3A, Sophie B. Wright never trailed in the first half, taking a quick lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Hammond and Dandrick Green.
Trailing 18-10 at the end of the first quarter, Salmen opened the second quarter with an 8-4 spurt, cutting the deficit to 22-18 with 3:24 left on a bucket by Williams.
Back-to-back buckets by Gallapsy two minutes later got the Spartans as close as 24-22 with 1:14 remaining before the Warriors scored five unanswered points to push the lead back up to 29-22. Sophie B. Wright took a 29-24 advantage into the halftime locker room.
The best run of the night for Salmen came to start the third quarter as the team opened the half on a 9-2 run and took a 33-31 lead with 4:57 to go on a 3-pointer by Jaylen Williams. The Spartans lead would grow to as much as 41-37 on a bucket by Gallaspy late in the third period.
The Warriors responded with a 6-0 run of their own and took the lead back for good on a bucket by Jerome Anthony with 1:30 left in the third period.
“We didn’t start off like we wanted to, but I thought we answered (Sophie B. Wright’s) run with one of our own,” Carlin said. “I was proud of our team’s effort. We had a four-point lead with about three minutes to go in the third quarter and played with confidence. Then once things got a little up-tempo, things got out of hand and we just couldn’t hold on.
"This team is full of good ball handlers; we just have to be better decision-makers in key situations.”