Golden Bears top Shamrocks

Salmon River boys basketball center Rarennenha:wi Cook-Francis goes up for a block against Canton’s Zach VanBrocklin on Friday. The Shamrocks lost to the Golden Bears, 63-39. Vin Gallo/Malone Telegram

FORT COVINGTON — Salmon River boys basketball matched NAC Central leader Canton’s energy Friday, but 19 of 31 turnovers for the game caused the Shamrocks to drop their early momentum and fall to a 63-39 defeat.

“I loved the first quarter,” Shamrock head coach Ben Davison said. “We came out, we showed we weren’t a layup, we showed we are not a team that’s gonna dive and end our season. We were there to play all game.”

Rarennenha:wi Cook-Francis led Salmon River with 15 points, while Sebastien Laughing added 10 points. Cook-Francis on the defensive end added four blocks. With his 15 points on Friday, Cook-Francis inches within 18 of 1,000 career points.

“(Cook-Francis) was dominant,” Davison said. “Chris Downs is a fantastic basketball player. He is the most fundamental big man I’ve seen this year. (But) when Hawi comes to play ... I think he’s the best kid in the league ... they’ve (Canton) got big men and he did what he needed to do in the post.”

Four Golden Bears — led by Sam Roiger’s game-high 18 points — scored in double-digits: Chris Downs, Jr. (14 points), Luke Wentworth (12 points) and Jonah Longshore (10 points).

Canton (10-2, 6-0) had 15 turnovers in the game, but the Bears used the press and their transition offense to keep the Shamrocks (4-6, 0-4) in the rearview mirror.

“Pressure, we know that’s our weakness,” Davison said. “Pressure is our weakness and it’s been showing over and over and over ... We’re doing better and that’s what the season’s about. You can hopefully refine yourself before you get to playoffs and you never know. Everybody’s 0-0.”

Canton led 30-20 at halftime and proceeded to ignite a third quarter-engulfing 22-9 run out of the break, to claim a 52-29 lead going into the fourth.

Salmon River straight from tip-off got out to a 7-0 lead over the first-place Bears and kept a tie game at 11-11 going into the second quarter.

“Defense really settled (us in),” Laughing said. “Our offense ..... we have to work on that. We lost control of (possession) a little bit. (But) toward the end, we kind of brought ourselves back up.”

Despite holding Canton close through the contest’s opening 16 minutes, 12 second-quarter turnovers flattened all offensive momentum the Shamrocks had — allowing their opponent to get out into the open floor and pull away. The Bears did not let up, out of halftime.

“We’re missing some guys, we haven’t really been able to practice that well, so the games are even more important,” Canton head coach Troy Lassial said. “Being able to get off the bus and overcome an early deficit is important. We always want to play well, but the difference is, when you’re not playing well, are you able to overcome things?”

Salmon River is scheduled to play a non-league road game against Hammond (0-9, 0-6) on Monday at 1 p.m. It is the first leg of a back-to-back, before the Shamrocks return home on Tuesday to face Franklin Academy at 7:15 p.m.

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