Marblehead falls to Salem in TD Garden thriller

BOSTON— Sunday’s contest between the Marblehead Magicians and Salem Witches lived up to the quality of the parquet it was played on.
Salem survived Marblehead’s comeback effort and held on to win 66-61 at the 2024 Andrew James Lawson Foundation Invitational.

The Witches came out aggressive, building an early 10-point lead. By the time the first quarter ended, Salem led 18-11.

Salem was led into the second quarter by freshman guard Elian Rodriguez, who scored 10 of his total 14 points in the frame. The Witches’ lead ballooned to 17 by the quarter’s mid-point, but the Magicians went on a 9-2 run to close out the first half with help from a clutch 3-point shot from senior Scott Campbell.

As the halftime buzzer sounded, Salem led 36-26.

The momentum continued with the Magicians as the second half commenced, as the deficit shrunk to just three points thanks to baskets from senior Nick Lemmond and freshman guard Finn Baron. However, Salem quickly answered back with two consecutive threes from senior guard Eddie Butler. Butler’s hot streak continued as he later hit another third-quarter triple.

Heading to the fourth, Salem held a comfortable lead of 55-40.
Marblehead showed it wasn’t going down without a fight, dominating the fourth quarter with a 19-7 run that cut Salem’s lead back down to three in the final minutes. Some key plays that fueled Marblehead’s fierce fourth quarter included a 3-point make from senior Adrian Baron and two hard-fought layups from Ryan Commoss, who led the Magicians in total points with 17.

After a defensive stop, Marblehead had possession with a chance to tie in the game’s final minute. However, Lemmond’s 3-point attempt came up short. After Salem took a five-point lead with 14 seconds left, Commoss kept his team’s dwindling hopes alive with a put-back shot, and it was once again a three-point game with five seconds remaining.

The Magicians had no choice but to foul, and Rodriguez put the game on ice for Salem with two free throws.

After the game, Marbleheaders gathered at the Putnam Club to celebrate the life of Heather Walker. The Marblehead resident and Celtics Vice President of Public Relations died last April after a nearly two-year battle with brain cancer. The Friends of Marblehead Basketball’s Bob Lemmond presented a $5,000 donation check to Walker’s husband, Stephen, and the entire Walker family that will go to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“You guys are tremendous for what you did,” Stephen Walker said. “Things like this not only raise funds, but the needed awareness for this disease. This is going to go to fight it.”