The Lady Seminoles concluded their stellar 2013-14 regular season Friday night with a 64-58 home victory over the Gainesville Lady Red Elephants on Senior Night.
The Lady Seminoles were led in scoring by Ayanna Mitchell who had 21 points and eight rebounds, whole guards Shay Tarver and Taylor King added 18 and 14 points, respectively.
Salem and Gainesville went into the fourth quarter tied 45-45, but the Lady Seminole ended Gainesville’s threat to their perfect regular season, outscoring the Lady Red Elephants 19-13 in the final period of play.
“Gainesville is a very tough team and we knew that coming in.”” Lady Seminoles coach Rochone Dilligard said. “They’re very tough and gritty, but our kids remained settled.”
The game began with the Lady Seminoles coming out on a 5-0 run on a Tarver 3-pointer and a Jennifer Tindi bucket.
The Lady Red Elephants’ first basket of the game came on a shot by Kayla Kelly, and it was a back-and-forth affair for the remainder of the quarter, with the Lady Seminoles taking a 12-7 lead after the period.
Both teams began the second quarter trading buckets once again, but it was Salem that made the first shot on a layup by Mitchell. Gainesville responded with a 4-0 run with back-to-back layups from Taylor Hawks and Parsley Lee.
After a Mitchell layup, things started to fall apart for the Lady Seminoles. The Lady Red Elephants went on a 7-0 run and in the process took an 18-16 lead.
Salem responded with a 4-0 run, tying the game on a king basket. Tarver gave Salem back the lead on a pair of free throws, but neither team could separate itself as Gainesville went into halftime with a 28-25 lead.
“At halftime we were all a little down, but we didn’t let that stop us,” Mitchell said. “We knew we weren’t going to lose on senior night. That wasn’t an option.”
Salem came out in the second half on a 6-0 run, fueled by a pair of free throws from King and a Mitchell layup.
The Lady Red Elephants responded with a four-point play from Tanai Watson. Despite 10 points from Mitchell in the third, the lead continued to exchange hands until Salem and Gainesville went into the final period tied 45-45.
In the fourth, the Lady Seminoles went on a clutch 5-0 run after a Tarver 3-pointer and a Mitchell layup to take a four points. Both teams exchanged baskets for a short period, but the Lady Seminoles went on another 5-0 run.
Salem pushed its lead to eight, but Gainesville responded with a 3-pointer and a free throw to trim the Lady Seminoles’ lead to four, but a pair of Tarver free throws increased the Salem lead back to six.
The Lady Red Elephants responded with another 3-pointer to cut the lead back down to three, but Tarver and Tindi made three free throws to secure the 64-58 win for the Lady Seminoles.
“We fought a lot of adversity tonight” Tarver said. “Many people thought we weren’t going to pull it out because we’ve been blowing everybody out and that we couldn’t handle a close game. We did and we got the win.”
For King the win is bittersweet because it is the final game she will play as a Lady Seminole on her home court.
“We kept saying it the whole game that we wanted to win” King said. “We kept talking to each other and made sure everybody worked as a team.”
The Lady Seminoles closed out the regular season with a 21-2 overall record and a 16-0 record in their region.
Salem returns to action Tuesday, weather permitting, in the quarter finals of the Region 8-AAAAAA Tournament against the winner of Heritage vs. Apalachee at 6 p.m.