LEXINGTON TWP. — The ninth-ranked Marlington Dukes withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Salem Quakers to post a 60-54 win in a girls Eastern Buckeye Conference basketball game Saturday afternoon at Marlington.
With the Dukes' win they improve to 11-2 and 6-1 in the EBC and remain tied for the league lead with West Branch (13-3, 7-1). Salem falls to 13-2, 7-2.
"This was a typical EBC game, this is one of the toughest leagues around," said Marlington coach Mike Stadulis. "Between us, West Branch, and Salem and some of the other up-and-coming teams every night is a battle."
Chelsea Evanich led the Dukes with a double-double of 20 points, including 11 of 13 from the line, and 12 rebounds.
Evanich's biggest rebound came with 56.7 seconds remaining on a missed Marlington free throw. Her putback gave the Dukes a five-point lead, 56-51, after the Quakers had come back to within one point just moments earlier.
"Chelsea is a tremendous player. There is a reason that she is averaging a double-double. I would put her up there with any sophomore in the state," said Stadulis. "Some time you get boxed out but you never know how it's going to bounce off the rim, but Chelsea tracks it down."
Lexi Miller added 14 points for the Dukes and Elizabeth Mason added 12 points.
Krista Barley led the Quakers with 15 points, Abby Perry scored 14 points and Abbie Davidson scored 10 points.
The Dukes led 15-10 after one quarter, 27-17 at halftime and 45-33 after three quarters.
Marlington appeared to have the game well in hand as their lead ballooned to 15 points, 49-34 with 6:00 remaining in the game.
Barley scored the first Quaker points in the fourth with a 3 but it was quickly negated by a 3 from Miller.
Barley answered back with another 3 and added two more triples in a 14-0 Quaker run. The Quakers cut the Dukes' lead to one point, 52-51, with 2:36 remaining after Perry stole a Marlington pass and was fouled leading to a pair of free throws.
Free throws by Evanich and Maria Warner gave the Dukes some breathing room with a 54-51 lead and Evanich's put back all but sealed it for the Dukes with a five-point lead.
"I feel that this loss is on me, I didn't do a good job of preparing the girls for a game like this," said Saem coach Sarah Hamilton. "Our comeback in the fourth quarter is who we are as a team. I think that any team that we play should be scared of our team when we play the way that we are capable of."
"We have had two tough losses in the last three games; a close one to Louisville and West Branch that we should have closed out. I told the girls that they would make us better down the road, and we kept our poise today and finished it," said Stadulis.
"Salem never gave up and came at us hard in the fourth quarter. When Barley kept hitting those 3s, I had deja vu back to the Louisville game where the freshman [Courtney Barwick] came in the fourth and hit four 3s. I thought that we had pretty good defense on her but she was shooting them from the bleachers," said Stadulis.
"Salem plays as hard as anybody and really gets after you. Teams like Salem and West Branch are the reason that we have really bumped up our schedule this season. [Sunday] we play Toledo Notre Dame at the Classic in the Country. There are no cream puffs on our schedule, it's no joke. This will prepare us for the top teams in our league and postseason play," said Stadulis.
This article originally appeared on The Alliance Review: The Marlington girls basketball team defeats Salem for the second time