The Chelsea High basketball team defeated Salem in the opening round of the Wakefield Christmas Tournament Sunday evening at Wakefield High. The Red Devils advanced to the championship round against the host team Wakefield Tuesday night as the Record was going to press.
"It was not one of our better games this season," said CHS head coach Jay Seigel of his team’s 68-65 victory. "We played well in spurts, but lacked consistency throughout the game when we had opportunities to put Salem away. But give Salem credit, because they’re a good tam and they hung tough."
The Red Devils led the entire game, but were unable to open up a big spread against the Witches. Still, despite the three point final margin, Chelsea remained in control the entire way.
Chelsea’s consensus all-star Cesar Castro turned in a superlative performance, scoring 20 points on the night and also dished out some nice assists.
However, the big story of the night was the play of Greg Szalkowski in the middle, who had to fill the gap left by the departure of Mark Reddick with foul trouble. The 6-7 Reddick was saddled with four fouls early in the second half and sat out almost the entire third quarter and most of the fourth.
"Greg really stepped up for us," noted Seigel of Szalkowski’s eight point effort.
Another key to the Red Devil victory was the outstanding defensive efforts turned in by Felix Crespo and Eli Ortiz, who took turns holding down Salem’s leading scorer, Antonio Reyes.
"Felix and Eli did a great job on Reyes," said Seigel. "They both worked very hard all game and it was a big factor in our victory.
"This was a big win for us against a quality Division 1 team," continued the coach. "We have a challenging non league schedule, so hopefully this bodes well for the rest of the season."
Seigel and his crew have a busy week ahead. After the tourney final, they will host Revere on Wednesday and then travel to Peabody on Monday, both of which are former GBL rivals. The Red Devils will return home next Tuesday to host Minuteman. Tap off time for that game is 4:45.