Worcester Falls to Salisbury in ESIAC Semis

BERLIN- Worcester Prep’s men’s varsity basketball team fell to visiting Salisbury School, 48-34, on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference (ESIAC) tournament when the Dragons closed out the game with a 14-0 run.

Worcester’s hope of extending their season and reaching the conference championship game slipped away late Wednesday night when they simply could not get any shots to fall for a long stretch of the fourth quarter. The Mallards led by three at the half and extend their lead to six points early in the third quarter, but their offense went suddenly cold while an inspired Salisbury made most of their shots down the stretch.

Worcester trailed 7-2 early in the first quarter but rallied to take the lead late in the quarter. With just over a minute left in the first, Worcester’s Dan Bunting stole the ball and dished it to Christian Payne, who converted the lay-up to give the Mallards an 11-10 lead, their first since they led 2-0 on the first possession.

In the second quarter, Payne nailed a three-pointer early to put the Mallards on top 16-12 with six minutes left. Payne scored again with just over three minutes left to extend the lead to 18-13, but Salisbury kept plugging along and made a few free throws to cut the Worcester lead to 20-17 at the break.

Worcester extended its lead to six points at 25-19 early in the third, which is when the wheels started coming off the cart. Salisbury then went on a 10-run, the first of two big runs for the Dragons in the second half, and the third quarter ended with Worcester trailing 31-27. Worcester was outscored 14-7 in the period, highlighted by the 10-0 run by the Dragons.

Salisbury hit a big three-pointer early in the third to extend the lead to 34-27, but Worcester did not roll over.  Despite the big run by Salisbury, Worcester turned up the pressure on the defensive end, creating turnovers that led to a couple of easy baskets down the other end. Bunting scored on a lay-up that rolled around the rim for what seemed like several seconds to cut the lead to 34-29. After a pair of Cody Shoemaker free throws, Bunting scored again on a long three-pointer to tie the game at 34-34 with 3:23 left in the game, but that would end the Mallards scoring for the night.

Salisbury’s All-Conference player Mike Noyes took over late in the fourth, scoring on a put-back after a lay-up to put the Dragons back on top 36-34. Another Noyes’ basket made it 38-34, starting a long procession to the free-throw line for the Dragons down the stretch. Salisbury made nine of 10 free throws in the closing minutes to close out the 48-34 win.

Pictured above is Worcester Prep’s Clayton Perry as he passes the ball up top to Christian Payne during the second quarter of the Mallards’ 48-34 loss to Salisbury School on Wednesday.