Without its leading scorer and with two of its starters in foul trouble, Tamaqua came up just short in its upset bid of Salisbury Saturday.
The Blue Raiders were unable to take advantage of Salisbury's 2-for-10 foul shooting in the fourth quarter, losing 59-57 on their home court.
"I'm happy with our effort, but I'm not happy with the outcome," said Raider head coach Jay Daubert. "A couple mental mistakes, a couple missed shots that we thought we should have had and the game goes the other way."
Behind by a few points for most of the game, Tamaqua (2-5 overall, 0-2 Schuylkill League) took its last lead on a Michael Gurcsik basket with 4:27 left in the fourth quarter that made it 53-52.
Salisbury's Christian Diaz, a senior transfer from Freedom, made a three-pointer to put his team ahead 55-53 with 4:11 to go. Over the next minute Gurcsik and Spencer Bennett both fouled out. Tamqua was already playing without its leading scorer, Anthony Bumbulsky, who missed the game due to injury.
Salisbury's poor foul shooting kept the Raiders in the game. A Michael Taylor three pointer got them within one, 57-56 with 1:36 left. But Salisbury (4-1 overall, 2-1 Colonial League) increased its defensive effort in the final two minutes to hold off the Raiders.
"We should have sealed that game at the two-minute mark," said Falcon head coach Jason Weaver. "We were lucky to get out of here with a win."
Salisbury jumped out to a sizeable lead in the first quarter, going ahead 9-2 in the first four minutes and 19-11 with 56 seconds left in the first period.
Taylor caught fire in the second quarter and led the Raiders back. The 6-foot-1 senior guard made five of seven shots in the second quarter, including two of three from beyond the arc and four of four from the foul line. He had 16 of his game-high 27 in the period, but his team was still down 33-31 at the half.
"He's capable of putting up 20-25 any night," Daubert said. "And when he does that it gives us a better chance to win games."
Tamaqua outscored Salisbury over the final three quarters but couldn't make up the first-period deficit.
"When they were man-to-man [in the first quarter] we were able to get some penetration, able to get some good looks," Weaver said. "They went zone and we got a little stagnant with our shots selection and moving the ball. They started feeding off that and our defense, we still gave up 13 points in the first quarter so it wasn't like we were playing awesome defense."
Salisbury came into the game off a 10-day break and two days without practice.
Tamqua faced a six-day break after the nonleague weekend game.
"We've got a long layoff here, we don't play until next Friday," Daubert said. "We've got four days of practice coming up. It would have been nice to go in on a win rather than a loss."
Maron 0-0-0-0, Tyray McDuffie 1-0-0-2, Baker 5-2-7-12, Kovach 3-0-1-8, Peterson 0-0-0-0, Tyrae McDuffie 1-2-2-4, Diaz 4-0-2-9, Schantz 3-2-3-8, Cochrane 4-8-15-16. TOTALS: 21-14-30-59.
Streisel 2-3-6-7, Fegley 1-0-0-2, Bennett 1-2-2-4, Lakitsky 4-0-0-9, Rudy 1-0-0-2, Taylor 10-4-6-27, Ansbach 0-0-0-0, Gurcsik 2-0-1-4, Reinhardt 0-0-2-0, Hubosky 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 22-9-17-57.
Salisbury 21 12 11 15 - 59
Tamaqua 13 18 16 10 - 57
Three-pointers - S: Kovach 2, Diaz 1; T: Taylor 3, Lakittsky 1.