BELOIT - Ryan Bush netted the night's first 12 points to stake Salem out to an early lead it would never relinquish Friday at West Branch, as the Quakers pulled away from the Warriors down the stretch and secured a 72-51 victory.
Bush recorded a game-high 31 points to lead the way for the Quakers (2-0).
"I felt it was a good overall team effort - we did a good job inside and our perimeter players pushed the ball," interim head coach George Spack said. "Certainly Ryan Bush was explosive for us tonight. He got us out to a great start, but I thought Max Wolfgang did a great job on their big guy as well. It was a great team effort I couldn't be more pleased."
West Branch head coach Sellaroli said Bush frustrated his squad for much of the night.
"We knew going in they were a good team and they played really well," Sellaroli said. "Bush was outstanding. We tried to throw everything at hime and it didn't matter. He's such a good player and he makes everybody around him that much better"
Wolfgang poured in 11 points of his own, but it was his work on the defensive end that perhaps made the biggest impact. West Branch big man Jacob Griffith was held scoreless.
SALEM: 20 16 19 17 - 72
WEST BRANCH: 14 12 14 11 - 51
SALEM SCORING: Ryan Bush 13-3-31, Austin Frank 1-0-2, Mike Madison 1-0-2, Zack Wukotich 2-0-4, Brendan Webb 2-0-4, Zach Economous 1-0-3, Max Wolfgang 3-5-11, Eric Madison 0-2-2, Anthony Shivers 6-1-13.
TEAM TOTALS: 29, 11-15, 72.
WEST BRANCH SCORING: Jarian Thomas 1-1-3, Beau Taylor 3-0-6, Kolton Kitzmiller 3-0-8, Drake Lohnes 2-1-5, Troy James 1-0-2, Mark Schqingle 1-1-3, Dustin Greenawalt 2-0-5, Kip DeShields 6-3-17, Zack Mucklo 1-0-2, Matt Meiter 0-2-2. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 8-14, 51.
THREE POINTERS: Salem 3 (Bush 2, Economous), West Branch 5 (Kitzmiller 2, DeShields 2, Greenawalt).
Both teams make use use of an offensive attack that emphasizes pushing the basketball down the court, but Sellaroli and West Branch opted to try and limit the Quakers' possessions by slowing things down.
"We knew they were in up-tempo team and we really didn't want to get them into too much of a running game," Sellaroli said. "We thought if we could limit some of their touches it would limit some of their breaks, but they did a nice job of getting the ball out. Even when they got into half-court sets, they got the ball inside and scored."
Salem forced several turnovers through the first two quarters.
"I would say the biggest difference between last year and this year is the commitment to defense we've talked about for a couple of years," Spack said. "It's been a slow process but I think they're buying into it and I and you saw some of the results tonight."
Back-to-back baskets by Kip DeShields brought the home crowd to life and the score to within three for the Warriors in the first frame, but the Quakers managed to push the lead back to six before the first quarter concluded.
"We are asking a lot of Kip," Sellaroli said. "He's got to rebound, he's got to guard a big guy and at times he's got to help on the perimeter, so he's got a lot of things to do."
Deshields finished the evening with 17 points.
As the second quarter ensued, the up-tempo style of play continued, and Salem took a 10-point lead into half-time.
The Quakers opened second half opened with a 9-5 run, but it was the patience and experience that Salem displayed in spreading the floor instead of pushing the basketball that keyed the rally.
"We were trying to score in transition but if we didn't have anything we brought it out, spread the court and made them chase us by keeping the ball moving," Spack said. "Quite frankly that's part of the learning process. We haven't had very many situations over the past couple of years where we've had a comfortable lead and had to do that. It helps to be in that situation and learn that in a game situation."
Salem kept coming after another West Branch timeout, rattling off another 6-2 run that culminated with a Bush dunk, making the score 51-33.
West Branch cut the defifict to 15 with a 7-4 run to end the quarter.
"I thought we played hard but we couldn't match their intensity," Sellaroli said. "Their experience showed somewhat tonight they're very athletic."
The Quakers rattled off eight straight points, four of them coming from Max Wolfgang to start the final frame to push their lead to 23. Salem led by as many as 25.
Anthony Shivers also reached double figures for Salem, notching 13 points and adding 12 rebounds.
After dropping two to West Branch last year, the Quakers were eager to take game on from them this year.
"It's a great rivalry I really appreciate our fans support," Spack said. "We have to continue to stay hungry we have to come to practice every day and try to get better every day, but they have that commitment."
West Branch won the jayvee game 66-47. Luke Wallbrown and Dustin Greenawalt paced the Warriors with 11 points each. Mike Popa led Salem with 16.
Salem (2-0, 1-0 NBC) travels to Struthers to take on the Wildcats on Tuesday while West Branch (1-2, 0-1 NBC) will play at Canfield.