After Wednesday’s surprising defeat in the Region 8-AAAAA championship game, the Salem Lady Seminoles bounced back in a huge way Friday night, defeating the Mays Lady Raiders 62-46 in the first round if the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
Shay Tarver returned in full force for the Lady Seminoles, leading Salem with 17 points in the victory.
With the win, Salem advances to the second round of the state playoffs against the winner of Paulding County/Kell on Monday.
Salem head coach Rochone Dilligard said that the Lady Seminoles’ defense made the difference in the 16-point win.
“Our kids have really bought into our defensive system,” Dilligard said. “Being able to just get back to that defense and bare down man-to-man and get stops always makes a difference. We read the scouting report and they followed it exactly. So just us being able to play defense - that’s how you win championships. You have to be able to defend people one-on-one.”
The game opened up in the first quarter with Salem trailing early on a 6-0 run by the Lady Raiders. The Lady Seminoles answered with a 4-0 run with the first points coming from Taylor King on a jumper and a pair of Ayanna Mitchell free throws.
Mays knocked down consecutive baskets from Harlyn Wyatt and Kamyiah Street, but the Lady Seminoles cut back into Mays’ lead on a Jennifer Tindi layup.
The Lady Raiders increased their lead to six, but a pair of free throws from Mitchell and a 3-pointer brought the deficit to just one. Wyatt converted a free throw just before the buzzer, giving the Lady Raiders a 13-11 advantage going into the second quarter.
Salem started out the second quarter on an 8-0 run on back-to-back 3-pointers from Tarver and a layup from Mitchell. The run gave Salem its first lead of the game, but the Lady Raiders wouldn’t go away.
Mays responded with a layup and a pair of made free throws from Street and Wyatt, and the back-and-forth pace continued for the remainder of the period until the Lady Seminoles took a 29-26 lead into halftime.
The second half began with Salem making the first basket on a layup from Tindi, extending its lead to five, and Salem added a 9-0 run that was sparked by King, who put in six points during the stretch.
The run helped Salem take a commanding 47-31 advantage into the fourth.
The Lady Raiders showed signs of life in the fourth with a quick 4-0 run on a pair of free throws from Street and a layup from Indya Foster. Salem responded by making a free throw, but Mays still continued to fight.
The Lady Raiders went on a 6-0 aided by two shots from Lauren Turner, but the Lady Seminoles went on a 4-0 with two free throws from Tarver and a layup from Tindi.
Rosie Kyles made a shot that put Salem back up by 10 and huge defensive stops down the stretch were key to sealing the victory. Tarver brought the lead back up to 11 on a free throw and a layup by Tindi gave the Lady Seminoles a 13-point advantage.
King and Kyles added free throws down the stretch, clinching the first-round win.
King added 14 points for the Lady Seminoles, while Tindi and Kyles added 13 and 11, respectively. Mitchell filled the stat sheet with seven points, 11 rebounds, four steals and five assists.
Tarver said she was happy to get back out on the court after playing limited minutes earlier this week after the injury.
“I just had to play hard knowing they needed me and just to keep my mind off of it,” Tarver said.
Game time for the second round of the state tournament has yet to be set.