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Mitchell leads Salem in historic win

An historic performance from Salem junior Ayanna Mitchell Monday night led the Salem girls varsity basketball team to a 112-30 victory over rival Heritage, as Mitchell set a school-record with 46 points in the lopsided win.

Mitchell finished with a triple double in the win, grabbing 16 rebounds while recording 12 steals, besting the previous school record of 41 points in a game set by Courtney Hurt in January 2008 against Cedar Shoals.

Shay Tarver, Taylor King and Jennifer Tindi joined Mitchell in double figures, while the Lady Patriots were held to just 10 points in the second half in their 11th loss of the season.

“I think our kids played hard,” Salem coach Rochone Dilligard said. “I think they approach every game the same way. They want to get better and better on the court with the things that we do. There are very few times in life, as a basketball player, that you have a chance to do something special, and they did it tonight.”

Mitchell set her career high in the third quarter with 34 points, but the game was long over before Mitchell’s record-breaking score, as Salem led Heritage 71-21 at halftime.

“Ayanna is a special player,” Dilligard said. “She does a lot of different things that create easy scoring opportunities. She was able to do that tonight. She creates a lot of opportunities for herself on defense and she was able to convert those tonight.”

Salem jumped out to a 30-11 lead in the first quarter behind a trio of 3-pointers from Tarver. The junior nailed her first shot from behind the arc with 4:19 to go in the period, pushing Salem ahead 10-4. Briallen McIver converted a layup for the Lady Patriots to cut the Lady Seminoles’ lead to 10-6, but Salem went on an 18-0 run fueled by a Tarver 3-pointer and back-to-back Mitchell layups after a pair of Heritage turnovers.

With 30 seconds to go in the quarter, Heritage’s Damali Thomas hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, cutting Salem's lead down 19 heading into the second quarter.

The 11-point quarter was the highest scoring period for the Lady Patriots, who scored just 20 points over the final three quarters.

Salem outscored Heritage 41-10 in the second period, as Mitchell scored 22 points in the quarter, including going 6-of-8 at the free-throw line. King added 11 points in the quarter, with eight of her points coming from the charity stripe. The Lady Patriots were whistled for 21 fouls over the first two periods, sending Salem to the line 30 times in the first 16 minutes.

Thomas was the lone Heritage scorer in double figures at the half, finishing the second quarter with eight points for 13 total points at the break.

The Lady Seminoles limited Heritage to two baskets from the floor in the third quarter before outscoring the Lady Patriots 29-5 in the fourth quarter for the 82-point victory.

Tarver finished with 21 points and six assists, while King and Tindi finished with 17 and 12 points, respectively. Tindi also finished with a double-double with 10 points. Rosie Kyles led The Lady Seminoles with eight assists.

Thomas finished as the Lady Patriots’ leading scorer with 18 points, scoring 13 of Heritage’s 21 first-half points.

Salem returns to action after the winter break at Apalachee on Jan. 3, while the Lady Patriots head to Walnut Grove on Dec. 27.