The Salem State Vikings Basketball team huddle togeher before the game on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in Salem, Mass. The Vikings beat the Westfield State Owls 84–72. (Walter Cicchetti)

Vikings Men’s Basketball Team Prepared Heading into the Championship

By Walter Cicchetti

SALEM, Mass., Feb. 11, 2017 — The Salem State Vikings men’s basketball team got another win this Saturday against the Westfield State University Owls. They’re now at nine wins and two losses in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC). Last year, Fitchburg State University beat Salem State winning the conference.

The conference is made up of seven Massachusetts state colleges and universities that compete in a variety or collegiate athletic activities. The seven coaches in the conference voted Salem State likely to win the championship, according to a news article. Chris Harvey leads the team in his tenth season as coach.

On Saturday, the bleachers were filled with Salem State fans and several Westfield State fans. Parents, students, cheerleaders, and even a former Salem State student were there to see the Vikings beat the Owls 84 to 72.

“Salem played amazing,” Vladimir Nere, a Salem State graduate said of Saturday’s game, “the whole team in general just played a great game overall.”

Nere said he used to go to all the home games.

“I’m friends with most of the kids so like I always go to support them. I gotta support my team,” he said.

Nere was at the championship games last year and said this year will be different.

“I know they’ll beat Fitchburg, definitely, without a doubt!” he said.

Beating Fitchburg State will take a great deal of effort, Coach Harvey acknowledged in an email: “Fitchburg is well coached and talented.”

The Vikings worked hard in the offseason, which prepared them well, Harvey added, noting that they “came back focused and willing to sacrifice individual agendas for team success.”

Harvey said he’s not positive they’ll beat Fitchburg State but he has a plan in mind, “playing [the] game with confidence and controlled aggression.” Now the team just has to execute the plan he said.

Shaquan Murray, a junior on the team feels confident going into the championship.

“We can’t start off sluggish,” he warned. “We’ve been starting off sluggish a little the past few games.”

Murray leads the team in points per game with an average of 15.3.

Shaquan Murray, makes a basket from the foul line on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in Salem, Mass. Murray is the top scorer for the Vikings. (Walter Cicchetti)

Shyheim Davis-Smith, a co-captain and a senior on the team said it’s about playing the game their own way.

“We’re gonna run, and make it our tempo… the faster we play [and] the faster we make the tempo, that’s how we play the game,” he said.

The Vikings will play Fitchburg State again on Wednesday. Salem State will have home court advantage and a Viking win ensures first seed going into the championship next Tuesday.