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Salem girls win, boys lose first round games

CONYERS -- Ayana Mitchell had 29 points and 14 rebounds to lead a balanced offensive attack as the Salem girls overwhelmed Paulding County 74-40 in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.

Salem, fresh off the program's first region title in eight years, will try to extend its winning streak to ten games when it hosts Tucker in this weekend's round of 16.

Salem (19-10) led by 16 at halftime, but turned it into a rout during a lopsided third quarter.

Shay Tarver, who had just one point in the first half, exploded for 13 of her 14 points in the third as the Seminoles build a 63-30 lead heading to the final period.

The Salem defense forced 16 first-half turnovers, which led to 20 points at the other end.

Paulding County had cut the deficit to 16-10 on a free throw by Keshia Shy at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter, but the Seminoles took control from that point. Led by Mitchell, who had 17 points in the opening half, Salem scored 11 of the next 13 points to go up 27-12 with just under three minutes to go.

The visitors tried to stay close, getting to within 10 points at 27-17 on Shy's field goal with 2:10 to play.

But Salem finished the half on a 10-4 run -- Nikkira Brown had a bucket and an assist -- to go into the locker room up 37-21.

Jennifer Tindi added 10 points and eight rebounds for Salem, which snapped a five-game losing streak in the state tournament. Shy had 12 points and Crystal Maner added 11 for Paulding County (20-7).

The Salem boys basketball team is still searching for that elusive first state tournament victory as Daniel Fowler's 23 points led Allatoona to a 69-56 opening round victory in the nightcap.

While No. 3-seed Allatoona (23-6) moves on to the second round to face the winner of Region 7 champion Sprayberry and Tucker, Salem, runner-up in Region 8-AAAAA, fell to 0-3 all-time in the state playoffs and finished 16-13.

Jamaal Garror, who was excellent all game and led Salem with 22 points, had an off-hand layup with 1:56 left in the third quarter that got the host Seminoles to within 36-29. In the fourth, Salem got as close as 46-40 on a beautiful, banked-in runner by Garror and a nice, stepback jumper by Jousel Lumpkin with 6:22 left in the game.

But the Seminoles wouldn't get any closer.

Fowler, Shamar Griffin, Mario Baggs and Austin Faulkner combined to go 16 of 17 from the free throw line over the final four minutes to send the Cobb County school to the second round.

Salem's offense struggled for much of the night, especially during the opening half as the Seminoles converted just five field goals and trailed 27-18 at the break.

Allatoona scored seven consecutive points during one stretch, turning a four-point game into a 23-12 advantage on a layup off an inbounds pass from Baggs to Fowler with 5:24 to go in the half.

Despite a thunderous dunk on a fast break by Garror, two of the guard's 10 first-half points, and 4 of 4 free throws by Dedrick Turner down the stretch of the second quarter, Forrestt Lane's putback made it a nine-point halftime game.

It was a strong start for Allatoona, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAA, which grabbed a quick, 10-2 lead four and a half minutes in. Salem clawed back thanks to Garror, who had an impressive, one-handed put back at the 2:44 mark and drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get the Seminoles to within 14-9 late in the first.