The Salem will boys will be at Pulaski County tonight, and you can bet the bus driver knows the way.
Last year Salem played River Ridge District and Region IV tournament games in Dublin, so the rims should be familiar with the Spartan boys if the opponent is not. The Cougars are just 3-8 this year after winning the River Ridge District regular season last year. Salem then beat Pulaski in both the district and regional tournaments at the Pulaski gym, including an overtime thriller in the regional that ended the Cougars’ season.
“They’re down a little from last year,” said Salem coach Kevin Garst. “They miss Nubian Peak. He was one of the best high school basketball players I’ve ever seen.”
Peak, who lit up Salem for 36 in one game last year, is now on a football scholarship at Virginia Tech and Garst is happy to have him there.
A busy week continues on Saturday when Salem plays host to Northside in an afternoon game at SHS. The game is a makeup from the first week of the season, when the Vikings were in the state football playoffs. The jayvees will start at 1 pm at SHS Saturday with the varsity to follow at approximately 2:30 pm.
On Tuesday Salem was at Hidden Valley, where the Spartans took a 65-52 win. Reggie Barnette had 20 points and 10 boards and hit all six of his free throws. Salem has been struggling at the line this year, but on Tuesday they drained 16 of 18 against the Titans.
Hidden Valley played a zone against Salem in the first half, but “zone buster” Tyler Mann hit three threes and finished with 11 points. Isaac Belton had 10 points.
Last Friday at SHS the Spartans took a 75-65 win over Christiansburg. Twins Reggie and Stephen Barnette put on a show, as Reggie had 25 points and four dunks, including two lobs from brother Stephen. One was from half-court.
“We actually have a play for the lob in our half-court offense, but the transition stuff is all them,” said Garst. “They’re great athletes.”
Stephen had 16 points and the two combined for 23 of Salem’s team total 42 rebounds. Reggie also had three steals, one of which he converted into a thunderous dunk on the other end.
The game was far cry from a 48-41 win in Brookville a couple nights prior. Salem had just two assists and 14 turnovers in that game while scoring just 34 points in regulation. Against Christiansburg the Spartans had 44 in the first half alone and finished with 14 assists.
“It was a tale of two games,” said Garst. “We were terrible at Brookville, but we were much better on Friday.”
Tuesday’s win at Hidden Valley gives Salem a 9-4 record with a 3-1 district mark. Tonight’s game at Pulaski will close out the first half of the River Ridge season, and next Wednesday the second half begins with Salem playing host to Cave Spring.