Salkeld: Solidity is name of game No fancy stuff: Hammond High's senior forward disdains theatrics and makes all the right fundamental moves for No. 13 Bears.

February 04, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

He doesn't have the suitable-for-framing jump shot. He doesn't make that hand-slapping, elbows-swirling rebound. He doesn't dunk.

Hammond's 6-foot-3 senior forward Tom Salkeld leaves that flamboyant stuff to others.

He's a bacon-and-eggs player, the solid, dependable type who is consistently good at a wide range of fundamental skills -- scoring, rebounding, dribbling and passing.

And his no-nonsense, basic brand of ball is paying off for the No. 13 Bears (12-3 overall, 6-1 league), who have surprised many people by challenging for the county title.

When coach Mike Mongelli needs someone to bring the ball into play under pressure late in the game, Salkeld is his man.

"He's our go-to guy when we're in trouble. He can handle the ball under pressure. He's our most solid player, the key to our club," Mongelli said. "He's the glue. I worry about his fouls more than anyone else's."

Mongelli was especially worried Wednesday night when Salkeld went out with an ankle injury late in the first quarter.

Salkeld didn't play the second quarter and the Bears fell apart, making eight turnovers and scoring two points while squandering a 17-11 first-quarter lead. They trailed at halftime, 27-19.

But Salkeld was able to play the second half, and the Bears rallied to their biggest win of the season, a 50-48 victory on Oakland Mills' floor.

Salkeld's rebound of Irving Conwell's missed shot with six seconds left led to Hammond's game-winning basket at the buzzer.

Salkeld's stats are a modest 6.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. But the intangibles he contributes aren't measurable.

Mongelli said that Salkeld is a smaller version of one of Hammond's all-time great players, Terry Scott, a forward on Hammond's 1983 state championship team.

"He can go to the basket when he has to, makes very few mistakes and rebounds well for his size," Mongelli said. "He makes good decisions, is a team player and fits in well with the other guys."

Salkeld is a three-year starter along with point guard Tim Spruill, and after two losing seasons, including a 3-19 mark last season, he is savoring Hammond's newfound success.

"We didn't have the chemistry last season, but this season we're enjoying playing together and have some senior leadership," Salkeld said. "Defense is a key part of this team's strength. The defense lifts us up and helps the offense."

The Bears held Atholton, Wilde Lake, Howard, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake to fewer than 50 points apiece.

Salkeld especially is helping the Bears on the boards lately. He had a career-high 15 rebounds against Howard.

"Our team has a lot of potential to get better because we have good depth off the bench," Salkeld said. "Our goal is to win the county."

That's a feat the Bears last accomplished when Salkeld was a freshman playing junior varsity.

Salkeld has experienced success at a lower level. His D.C. Players team, which included Atholton starters Matt Hahn and Marc Horner, won the Beltway Travel League one season.

This season's basketball success follows one of Hammond's most successful soccer seasons, and Salkeld was a big part of that team.

He scored on a penalty kick that put Hammond into overtime, when the Bears beat the Scorpions. "I'm a little better in basketball than I am in soccer," he said.

He would like to play both sports in college, and is looking at Division III schools such as Ursinus, Grove City and Gettysburg.

He has a 3.5 GPA and scored 1,180 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

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