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Salem knocks off rust against Lady Patriots
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The Salem Lady Seminoles used a balanced scoring effort Saturday night to capture their 14 region victory of the season, defeating Heritage on the road 54-25.

Taylor King led Salem (19-2, 14-0) with 14 points, while Ayanna Mitchell and Jennifer Tindi added 10 points each in the 29-point victory.

Salem held the Lady Patriots’ (1-21, 1-12) leading scorer Damali Thomas to two points, while Destiny Martin finished with a team-high eight points in Heritage’s sixth fourth consecutive region loss.

Leading just 17-6 after the first quarter, Salem used a 10-0 run at the start of the second period, holding Heritage scoreless for the first five minutes of the period, marching out to a 30-11 first-half advantage.

“The rust was apparent,” Salem coach Rochone DIlligard said. “We have to work to get back our timing. We’ve been out of school for a while, but we should be able to snap back as quickly as possible. However, even though our chemistry was off, it still came out and got another region win. Any time you can have an off night, it’s possible to be knocked off, so we have to continue to try to limit those opportunities.”

Holding a nine-point lead entering the second, Salem held the Lady Patriots scoreless until the 2:40 mark when Heritage’s BriAllen McIver knocked down a free throw to end the Lady Patriots’ drought. During the run, Salem scored 10 unanswered points, four of which came from a pair of Shay Tarver layups.

Tindi knocked down back-to-back baskets to push the Lady Seminoles ahead 25-6, but Heritage played Salem head-to-head over the final three minutes. Mitchell knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:24 left in the half, but Alexis Hawkins hit a pair at the charity stripe and Martin hit a runner in the lane with 30 seconds to go to send the Lady Patriots into halftime down just 30-11.

Thomas hit her first basket on the Lady Patriots’ opening possession, but the 17-point deficit was the closest Heritage got to their rivals in the second half.

Salem connected with back-to-back 3-pointers after Thomas’ basket, extending its advantage to 36-13.

Martin used a spin move in the lane and connected on a jumper with 4:43 left in the third quarter, but her basket was the last for Heritage for a four-minute stretch, as the Lady Seminoles closed the period on a 10-2 run. 

Mitchell found the bottom of the net with a layup during the run and King hit another 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go, part of Salem’s seven 3-pointers in the game, giving the Lady Seminoles a 46-19 lead heading into the final quarter.

Salem held Heritage to six points in the fourth, but outscored the Lady Patriots by just two in the period. Heritage trimmed the lead to 25 with back-to-back scores from Hawkins and Martin, but Salem’s early lead held for the 54-25 final.

The win completed the season sweep for the Lady Seminoles over Heritage after Salem captured a 112-30 victory over the Lady Patriots in their first meeting this season.

“Getting the sweep is great, but we’ve talked about what our goals are for this year and everyone is an obstacle to us,” Dilligard said. “It doesn’t matter who it is – we have to always perform. We have a goal that we’ve set out, so we take it one game at a time and try to always improve so we can reach that goal.”

Salem opened the game on an 11-2 run behind a pair of 3-pointers from King. Heritage trimmed Salem’s lead to seven on a McIver layup, but Tarver and Tindi scored in the paint to extended Salem’s lead to 15-6 at the end of the first, shaking the rust off a low-scoring first half. 

Salem returns to action Monday at home against Apalachee, while the Lady Patriots will host Flowery Branch at home Tuesday night.