Classical’s press defense too much for Salem to handle

Classical's Amber Crayton scored 16 points in Wednesday's win. (Item File Photo)

SALEM — The Lynn Classical girls basketball team got off to a fast start Thursday night and never looked back, coasting to a 67-24 in a Northeastern Conference matchup with Salem at Veterans Memorial Field House.

The Rams’ press defense was too much to handle for the Witches, who were held to 11 points through the first three quarters of the game.

“We wanted to come out and pressure them tonight,” Classical coach Tom Sawyer said. “The kids really executed the press well in that first part of the game and that got us going offensively. We had 23 points in the first quarter so that kind of set the tone for the whole game.

“All our players work hard in practice and they listen,” Sawyer added. “Whatever we are trying to do with the game plan whether it be press, press-breaker, man offense or zone offense, whatever aspect of the game it is these kids are really listening and want to learn. I’m glad that they had an opportunity to go out and show their skills tonight.”

Skyler Crayton (12 points and five rebounds) and sister Amber Crayton (10 points and five rebounds) had solid games for the Rams.

“We got 22 points between the Crayton sisters,” Sawyer said. “Both have improved leaps and bounds every year we have had them in the program and continue to do well. The biggest thing is they play hard every game. They only know one way to play and that’s hard. They do all the little things for us too to help us win games.”

Classical started fast, quickly jumping out to a 13-1 lead after a steal and layup by Keyanni Jordan (seven points and two steals). The Rams didn’t let up, forcing a number of turnovers on their way to a solid 23-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Along with the defensive effort, Classical dominated the paint with Jean Gupton-Morrison (10 points and 13 rebounds) leading the way with eight rebounds in the first half. Gupton-Morrison ended the first half with a buzzer-beater to put the Rams well ahead at 40-11.

“We want to get out in transition, defense to offense and you can’t do that if you don’t have the ball so we have to rebound,” Sawyer said. “Rebounding is a little bit about technique and a lot about effort. Salem had some size so it’s a whole lot about effort. The kids really worked hard tonight.”

Classical kept the effort going in the second half, holding the Witches scoreless in the third before the bench came in to finish the rest of the game. Junior Lindsey Valeri and sophomore Sajada Dean each had five points in the fourth quarter.

“It was good that tonight we were able to get 12 kids into the game,” Sawyer said. “All of those kids work hard in practice too. They probably get tired of playing against the starters and now they had their opportunity to go out and show what they are made of. I was happy to see them execute. They executed what we wanted to do both offensively and defensively. That’s important for them and for us as a program.”

The Rams (4-2) have another NEC matchup next Tuesday night (7) when they travel to Beverly.

“They’re a really good team,” Sawyer said of the Panthers. “They’re well coached and a tough team. Any place on the road is a tough place to play, especially over in Beverly and it will be a real challenge for us.”

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