The Lady Seminoles basketball team’s electric run through the 2013-14 season ended Thursday night on the road, as Salem fell 55-39 to host Tucker in the quarterfinals of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state basketball tournament.
Salem’s reliable offense was held to just 12 field goals in the loss, while the Tucker defense forced over a dozen turnovers, handing Salem its fourth loss of the season.
The Elite 8 contest was the first for Salem, while the Lady Tigers advance to the Final 4 for the first time since 1978.
The Lady Tigers will face Drew on Saturday in the state semifinal, while the Lady Seminoles close their season with a 25-4 overall record.
“I think we got off to a slow start and unfortunately when you get off to a slow start against a good team, it’s harder to fight back and get back to an even playing field,” Salem coach Rochone Dilligard said. “We fought and cut into the lead, we just had some moments where we didn’t execute like we typically do.”
Salem trailed by as much as 19 in the second half, but used a 13-2 run to pull within eight of the Lady Tigers. Paris Scott pulled Salem to within 43-45 with 3:32 to go in the fourth with a 3-pointer, but the Lady Seminoles couldn’t cut Tuckers’ lead any further.
Tucker pushed its lead back to double digits on the Lady Tigers’ next possession, scoring on an Erykah Davenport free throw before scoring on an offensive rebound put-back attempt after Davenport’s second free throw missed its mark. The score extended Tuckers’ lead to 46-35 with a little over three minutes to go and the Lady Tigers’ defense held Salem to just four points during the game’s late stretch for the 16-point victory.
“Our kids are fighters and they always compete,” Dilligard said. “They never stop competing. They are a great group of kids and I’m honored to be around them and watch them in action.
“They’ve accomplished so many things this season and I don’t think the loss diminished anything that they have achieved this year,” she said. “We’re looking for even greater things in the future.”
Tucker took a 25-15 halftime lead before stretching their advantage to 41-24 in the second half.
“I really want to thank our seniors, Jennifer Tindi and Taylor King,” Dilligard said. “They joined our program four years ago and have made a huge turnaround. They have been committed to the program and have stuck with it.”
Davenport finished with a game-high 17 points.