The Salem boys basketball team has posted an astounding 4-1 road record thus far in the 2010-2011 season. Traveling to unfriendly territory to post up against some of the area's toughest competition appears to pose no problems for the young hoops squad.
Unfortunately, their Wednesday night opponents have just as easy a time protecting their home hardwood.
The Winchester Sachems (5-3) are a perfect 4-0 playing in front of their home crowd, and hold a considerable size advantage on their forthcoming nemesis. If the Witches plan on being the first intruders to spoil the Sachems home-court advantage, it will take a complete team effort, and a big game by their post players.
“They are a big team and have out-sized,” said Salem Head Coach Tom Doyle. “We have to step up and play bigger than we are this week. [Winthrop] likes to go inside, and we are going to have to find a way to disrupt them.”
The Witches offense is predicated on the play of their starting guards, Raphy Medrano and Antonio Reyes; the senior duo is averaging 20 and 18 points respectively for a combined 38 points per game as the top scorers for Salem.
Doyle’s crew has battled against height disparity all season, having lost three of its big men from 2009-2010. With giant holes left to fill and a small pool of replacements to choose from, natural forwards and wing men have been forced to accept the role of center and post player. As one might predict, the shift and adjustment has created problems for Salem.
“Hopefully, we can get out and run against Winchester,” said Doyle. “We need to play to our strengths,” he commented, counting athleticism and speed as areas they can top the Sachems.
In Salem’s two losses this season, match-ups against Peabody and Winthrop, defensive lapses have left the Witches vulnerable. Coach Doyle does not see that being a problem on Wednesday night.
“We’ve been focusing on our defense in practice. We’ve had issues on the defensive end, but it has become a focus at our preparation and we need to just work our hardest out there.”
Wednesday’s game of the week is slated for a 5:00 p.m. tipoff in Winchester. Salem Patch will have photos from the night, following the out-of-town match-up.