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Rockdale, Salem hoop teams semifinal battles tonight

CONYERS -- It's semifinal time for several local basketball teams. The quartet of teams from Rockdale and Salem will all play region tournament semifinal games tonight and with a win secure at least a home playoff game in the first round of the state tournament.

Rockdale, the Region 2-AAAAAA regular season champion, will play No. 4 seed Morrow at 8:30 p.m. at Luella High School.

The Bulldogs are playing their best basketball of the season, having won five consecutive games, including a one-point win over Lovejoy on the final day of the regular season -- LaRonte Parks had 28 points in the victory -- to secure the top seed.

The Salem boys will try to get back to the region title game for the second time in three years when they play Loganville at 5:30 p.m. at Apalachee High School. The Seminoles, behind 19 points from Dedrick Turner and 18 from Demyon Greenwood, knocked off Winder-Barrow, 64-57 in Tuesday's quarterfinals, qualifying for the state tournament for the third consecutive season after never appearing at the state level before the 2010-2011 season.

"A couple years ago we talked about starting a tradition and I think we've started the tradition," said Salem coach Noah Harrell. "Senior class, three years in a row they've led us to a state spot."

After the Salem boys play, the girls will get their shot at reaching the title game when they play No. 1 seed Flowery Branch at 7 p.m. The Seminoles are coming off a 59-40 win over crosstown rival Heritage in Wednesday's quarterfinals and are feeling good heading into the match up against the 23-3 Falcons.

"We're confident because this is the first time this year that we've had every player on the court and healthy," said Salem coach Rochone Dilligard.

That healthy group includes sophomore standout Ayanna Mitchell, who had an ACL injury during last year's region tournament and missed a portion of this season. Mitchell was one of three players scoring in double figures in the win over Heritage.

The Rockdale girls defeated Morrow in the quarterfinals of the Region 2-AAAAAA Tournament and will play local rival Newton in today's semi finals at 4 p.m.

Newton swept both of the regular season matchups, winning 62-57 in January and a 75-69, overtime thriller two weeks ago. The winner could face regular season champion Alcovy, which plays host Luella at 7 p.m., in Saturday's title game.