July 24, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Girls basketball: Paige Salisbury does a little bit of everything

Paige Salisbury is listed as a point guard on the Brunswick girls basketball team’s roster.

In reality, there is no way to describe the many roles she plays for the Blue Devils.

The 5-foot-8 junior leads the team in scoring (13.0), rebounding (6.7), assists (3.5), steals (3.20), blocked shots (2.0) and field goal percentage (.447).

The only categories Salisbury doesn’t top the squad in are free throw percentage (.667) and 3-point percentage (.297) — and she ranks second in both of them.

“Special basketball players like Paige don’t come around too often,” Brunswick coach Halle Lengal said. “When a freshman can step in and start at point guard like she did, it tells you what kind of talent she has.

“But the most special quality about Paige is her work ethic. People see it during games, but the time she puts in during the offseason is even more impressive. That’s why she has become the player she is.”

Though Salisbury is responsible for running the offense — and does it very well — her play at the other end of the court has become her calling card.

The floor general has five games of at least three blocked shots this season, while her career high of six rejections occurred during Brunswick’s upset of then-undefeated St. Joseph on Jan. 16, 2013.

When Salisbury is in pursuit anywhere inside the arc, there is a pretty good chance her foe will be eating leather if she decides to shoot.

“I just try and be as strong down low as I can,” she said. “Whether that’s not biting on the fake and blocking shots or rebounding in traffic, I like coming away with the ball.”

While the majority of Salisbury’s blocks occur during one-on-one isolations, her thefts can happen anywhere or anytime on the court. She jumps passing lanes, picks pockets during dribble-drives and rips the ball away while double-teaming in the paint.

Salisbury will carry a streak of 10 straight multiple-steal games into the Blue Devils’ home contest tonight against Medina.

“Paige always listens to what her coaches have to say and adjusts her game to get the job done,” Lengal said. “Defensively, she finds a way to make a lot of great things happen, and she does it while encouraging her teammates and communicating on every possession.”

That carries over on offense, as well, where Salisbury’s intensity is becoming legendary.

Brunswick sophomore small forward Farrah Benner points out that “off the court, Paige is a total goofball, but she’s a little bit scary sometimes when we’re playing.”

Salisbury chuckled when told of Benner’s viewpoint, but didn’t deny it.

She credits her father Scott for instilling toughness in her during her youth basketball days, along with Stockman Basketball Club coach Kenneth Coleman for encouraging her to go strong the basket, regardless of the consequences or potential pain.

“I like to draw fouls a lot because you’re defeating the defense,” said Salisbury, who already ranks among the Blue Devils’ top 10 in career assists and blocked shots. “Even when your shots aren’t falling from outside, you can get to the line and help your team by scoring there.”

Salisbury’s go-to move is taking a long stride down the lane, then powering up a layup over the converging post players. She also is capable of pulling up and knocking down jumpers, making her very challenging to stop.

During Brunswick’s recent five-game winning streak, the third-year starter nicely illustrated that point by shooting .558 from the field, .357 on 3-pointers and .720 from the line while averaging 14.2 points.

Salisbury also remains on pace to become the second player in school history to amass 250 points, 150 rebounds, and 75 assists in a season. Carol Claridge accomplished the feat in 1981-82 and 1982-83, when the sport was played at a much more ragged pace.

“All of that is fine, but winning is the only thing that really matters to me,” Salisbury said. “It’s the best feeling in the world, getting the ‘W’ with your teammates. And when you don’t do that, it just makes you work harder because you want to experience it again and again.”

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.