Salem continued its winning ways Tuesday, but did it in a way that is new for the 2011-12 Lady Seminoles.
Salem had to come from behind in the second half for its 47-36 win over Clarke Central on Tuesday night.
The Lady Seminoles trailed 19-18 at halftime, before outscoring the Gladiators 29-17 in the second half.
Ayanna Mitchell led the way with 25 points, seven rebounds and five steals, and Nikkira Brown chipped in 14 points and five steals, but once again it was the Lady Seminoles' defense that was the key to their seventh straight win.
"We're playing really good defense," Salem coach Rachone Dillagard said. "We're playing really, really hard a lot of times. Good things come when you play really hard on defense."
Those good things have been coming all season to the Lady Seminoles, who have held five opponents to under 30 points.
The key has been, not only playing defense as a unit, but also showing different looks throughout the game. As it did against Clarke Central, Salem plays three types of defense, full-court and half-court and a trapping style. That caused confusion for the Gladiators, who had to adjust offensive styles throughout the game.
"I think because we have so many different things we do, there is a lot of different looks for the offense to come at," Dillagard said. "We may run three different defenses throughout the game, and you always have to be changing it up. It keeps the offenses out of sync."
In the first half Clarke Central kept Salem out of sync, but the Lady Seminoles adjusted well in the second half. After intermission, Salem was more successful on offense, which led to a better position on defense. The defense then led to a more productive offense, which led to yet another win.
"The first half we just didn't adjust very well to what they were doing against us," Dillagard said. "They got us out of sync. (In the second half) we were able to score and get right into our defense and get set."
A big contributor to that defense is star freshman, Mitchell. Mitchell not only has been the leader on offense for Salem, but has also done so on defense and in transition.
"She does a lot on full-court defense, as well as half-court defense," Dillagard said. "She gets easy opportunities for her, but also gets to the free-throw line."
Salem boys 58, Clarke Central 43
Salem only trailed early on in its boys' contest, before leading the rest of the way in a 58-43 victory over Clarke Central in the nightcap of Tuesday night's doubleheader.
Marcus McCoy and Dedrick Turner led the way for Salem with 12 points each.
Salem trailed after the first quarter, but rallied in the second and pulled away in the third.
A lineup change in the third quarter helped the Seminoles increase their lead to as many as 18 points.
Salem coach Darren Wilkens went with a lineup featuring Andre Springer, Damian Gordon and Turner at its core.
"The group came in off the bench and did a really good job," Wilkens said. "We've been trying to rotate guys and find a hot hand, and a good group to work together."
Wilkens found exactly that as that group was pulled out in the third quarter after having given their team an 18-point cushion. It was a change of pace for Salem, which has found itself down in the third quarter throughout the season.
"The third quarter is usually the one when we haven't played well," Wilkens said. "But tonight it was probably our biggest quarter."
Wilkens continues to get his players to get adjusted to their roles, and the third-quarter grouping that stepped up against the Gladiators is an indicator that some are starting to get it.
"The big thing we're trying to get these guys to understand is that you have different roles, but you just have to make a contribution every night," Wilkens said. "Just do what you can and be a contribution to the team."