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FLYIN’ RYAN: Rock star Peters fuels Salem’s rivalry win

 FLYIN’ RYAN: Rock star Peters fuels Salem’s rivalry win

Ryan Peters lays in two of his 28 points Tuesday night against Plymouth.

On the night before Valentine’s Day, Ryan Peters continued his role as a hoops heart-breaker for opponents of Salem’s basketball team.

Whether he was knocking down stop-and-pop three-point shots, drawing a crowd of defenders while driving to the hoop before delivering dimes to wide-open teammates, Peters was his usual hard-to-contain force in the Rocks’ 60-48 triumph over Plymouth.

Peters’ 28-point night put him — if he maintains his robust scoring habits — just one or two games away from reaching the 1,000-point mark, the Mount Everest for high school basketball players who compete in leagues like the KLAA where deliberate play is favored more than lightning-paced, up-and-down-the-court pace.

The senior netted 14 of the Rocks’ 23 first-quarter points (one fewer than the entire Wildcats’ team) before the hosts dedicated more defensive attention to the nylon-finding sharp-shooter.

Defensive uptick

Peters said he has learned to expect the uptick in resistance against him after he goes off in the early segments of games.

Plymouth sophomore Mack Swafford releases a  floating jumper
Plymouth sophomore Mack Swafford releases a floating jumper

“In games when I score a lot early, defenses start denying me the ball more, making it harder for me,” he said. “They bring more guys at me when I drive, which opens up my teammates.

“That’s when I take on a bigger playmaking role and start getting the ball to our shooters like Landen Stone and Mitch Robillard — or our guys down low like Tommy Veresh, Aydin Saiyed and Mitch Paspal.”

Peters, who rarely sits and almost never stands still while on the court, said his body is conditioned to excel without rest.

“At this point in the season, I’m used to it,” he said, smiling. “I’m usually exhausted at the end of the game, but I sleep well at night, especially after wins like this.”

To check out highlights from Tuesday’s game, click here.

Team effort

While Peters was undeniably the top Rock Tuesday night, he was far from the only one who sparkled.

Robillard netted 11 points and Saiyed contributed eight points off the bench to help stymie any Wildcat rallies.

The victory was Salem’s third in its past four games and improved its KLAA West Division to 5-7 — just one game out of third place.

Mitch Robillard looks to make a move on Ali Hider
Mitch Robillard looks to make a move on Ali Hider

“We’ve been playing better the second time through the division,” said Head Coach Ryan Nimmerguth. “The guys have bought into team basketball, picking each other up and being there for each other. It shows on the court.

“‘We’ve earned a couple of nice victories the past few weeks, and the games we lost were close; we just didn’t make plays down the stretch.”

Closing in on 1,000

Nimmerguth heaped high praise onto Peters, who is just 37 points away from the 1,000-career-point mark.

“Ryan has been outstanding all season, but he’s picked it up even more the past five games or so,” Nimmerguth said. “We continue to ask more of him and he continues to find more ways to contribute.”

The Wildcats kept the game relatively close through the first two-and-a-half quarters thanks to the effort of senior Idrys Cotton, who has committed to play football at Northwestern University beginning this coming fall.

Cotton scored 11 of the Wildcats’ 15 first-quarter points despite finding his path to hoop blocked by — on some occasions — two or three Rocks.

“He’s tough to stop,” Nimmerguth said. “He’s a very good player and he kind of got loose on us in the first quarter, but we executed defensively against him better in the second half.”

Freshman shined for ‘Cats

Another bright spot for Plymouth was freshman Chayse Calvin, who is listed at 5-foot-9. Calvin scored six third-quarter points — two coming on an acrobatic drive to the bucket in heavy traffic.

Aydin Saiyed releases a jump shot in traffic
Aydin Saiyed releases a jump shot in traffic

Playing perhaps his final game against a P-CEP rival, Peters said he savors the rare victories that don’t come down to the final ticks of the clock.

“We haven’t won many no-sweat games this year; we know we’re going to have to battle in every game we play in the KLAA,” he said.

“Whenever we play a (PCEP) game, the intensity is always higher. We worked our butts off tonight and it paid off.”

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or

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Ed Wright

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