It was a special victory for the Salem girls varsity basketball team Friday night at home against Cedar Shoals.
While the Lady Seminoles improved their record to 5-2 overall, it was a 25-point effort from junior Ayanna Mitchell that stole the show, as Mitchell broke the 1,000-point barrier in Salem’s 61-29 victory over the Lady Jaguars.
Mitchell connected on 11-of-16 shots from the floor while grabbing 13 rebounds in the win, sealing her spot in Lady Seminole history with her standout performance.
“She’s a great talent and more than anything, a hard worker,” Salem coach Rachone Dilligard said. “Her hard work makes her stand out. You would think that she's taken a lot of shots, but she’s very efficient and gets a lot of points off of our press because of the effort she bring defensively.
“She’s not just a shooter,” she said. “She’s a hard worker who earns her baskets.”
Guard Shay Tarver joined Mitchell in double figures with 12 points, while Jennifer Tindi added 11 rebounds in the win.
Dilligard said that the Lady Seminoles’ defense is beginning to help their offense along.
“We applied pressure to their guards really well tonight,” Dilligard said. “We got lots of points off turnovers and steals. It’s a good way to get off to a quick start.
“I think our defense is really starting to come around and the girls are buying into it,” she said. “A lot of times, when you have success on defense, it makes your offense easier because you can get some transition buckets and feel a little more relaxed. Our defensive intensity is starting to carry over on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Lady Seminoles hope to continue their winning ways next Tuesday against Clarke Central.
“Clarke Central returns a lot of players from last year,” Dilligard said. “They lost a post player, but last year they had a lot of good, young guards. This season, they are a year older and are more experienced, so it’s going to be a big contest for us to gauge if we made the improvements we’ve needed to. We’ve been working, and I want to see it pay off in region play.”
Game time against Clarke Central is set for 7 p.m.
Salem boys fall
The Salem boys varsity basketball team dropped its second consecutive game Friday night, falling 67-50 at home against Cedar Shoals.
The loss moves the Seminoles to 3-3 overall, with a 1-2 record in region play.
Austin Samuel paced the Seminoles with 14 points in the loss, while guard Quintavious Byrd added 10.
Salem scored just three points in the first quarter on its way to a 17-point first half, adding to their continued offensive woes early this season.
"Again, we're just missing easy opportunities," Salem coach Noah Harrell said. "We were 12-of-26 from the free-throw line and we're not making easy baskets. We're playing good defense, but we're just not doing anything constructive on the offensive end of the court."
Salem scored 24 points in the fourth quarter after scoring 26 points in the first three quarters combined.
"We just have to see success on the court," Harrell said. "We have ourselves in good positions, we're just not converting them. I feel like if we can get rolling, we're going to keep rolling."
Harrell hopes that the ball will begin bouncing the Seminoles' way against Clarke Central next week.
"I want to see us bounce back and show some gumption," he said. "We've had two region losses in a row and we need to bounce back. If we can get a region win and really show some toughness, I'll be happy. I want to see the guys show some heart and prove that we're better than our record says we are."
Salem will take on the Gladiators following the girls’ contest on Tuesday.