NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – On Jan. 14, the North Salem boys’ basketball team won their second straight game to improve to 4-6. Considering the Tigers’ early-season woes, even a minor win streak seemed worth celebrating at the time.
Nearly a month later, the Tigers’ win streak has ballooned to 12 games, with wins last week over Biondi Academy, Putnam Valley and Haldane; and on Tuesday against Pawling. It is the second-longest win streak in Section 1 boys basketball (Horace Greeley, 14).
“I think  in a row has surprised many of us,” said Coach Chris Regan.
The first-year varsity head coach said the team was spurred on by those back-to-back wins against Putnam Valley and Bronxville in mid-January.
“The win vs. Bronxville was so nice because they are such a quality opponent,” Regan said. “I think that win got us all thinking that we could get on a roll and play better.”
Some of the keys to the run, Regan said, has been North Salem’s ability to cut down on turnovers and improve rebounding.
North Salem has also been clicking offensively. The Tigers have averaged 61.75 points over the last 12 games, after breaking the 60-point mark just once during the first eight. During the run, they have outscored opponents 741 to 518—an 18.5 point-per-game margin.
The win streak has been a coming-out party for sophomore Roger Squire, who has emerged as not just as a leading scorer these last 12 games, but as an all-around force: second in rebounds, leading in assists and leading in blocks.
During the streak, Squire is averaging 12 points (on 44 percent shooting), 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.1 steals.
“Roger has really stepped up,” Regan said. “As the only underclassman on the team, he has fit in really nicely with the juniors and seniors. He has the ability to play both inside and outside on offense, so he has added a new scorer to the rotation, which we really needed after struggling to score through the first eight games. He’s a good defender with the length to guard on the perimeter and the shot-blocking capabilities to play on the inside.”
Steven Herlihy, who Regan previously described as a “steadying presence,” continues to drain three-pointers at an impressive percentage (28 of 52, or 54 percent, these last 12 games). Herlihy is averaging 9.8 points per game during the win streak.
Kevin Ryan, on the other hand, is lighting it up from inside the arc, shooting 52 of 93 from two-point range in addition to his rebounding, ball-handling and defensive contributions. During the win steak, Ryan is averaging 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.3 steals.
“Steven’s transition into more of a guard role has really helped take some of the ball-handling pressure off Kevin,” Regan said. “His ability to get Kevin the ball in the center of the court has helped our press break as well. His shooting has also been a key factor for us that has enabled our team scoring average to rise considerably. Kevin is great as a ball-handler and around the basket as well. He’s a tall guard who presents lots of problems for our opponents. Just like Roger, he can beat you inside and outside.’
Other notable stat leaders during the run include Anthony Foglia (averaging 8.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 steals) and Christian Norberto (averaging 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals).
North Salem finished the regular season on Tuesday (Feb. 11) at home against Pawling. The win gave the Tigers a share of the league III-E title with Haldane.
Section tournament details, including sites, have not yet been decided. Regan hopes North Salem will be able to host a playoff game. Out-bracket games will be played Saturday, Feb. 15, and first-round games begin on Thursday, Feb. 20.
“With this group, we have the ability to compete with Class B’s top teams if we continue to limit our turnovers and rebound well,” Regan said.