CONYERS - Salem's basketball squads made their home debuts Tuesday night in a twinbill against Madison County.
In the girls game, two of the favorites to win Region 8-AAAA squared off in a tightly contested matchup, but it was the Lady Red Raiders who pulled out a 54-50 win.
Meanwhile, the Salem boys improved to 3-2 on the season with a hard-fought victory over the Madison County boys, 59-50.
Salem boys coach Darren Wilkins said he was pleased to get the win, but he still sees a great deal of room for improvement.
"It was good to get the win, even though we're still not playing that well," he said. "I feel like we could have played a lot better. On the same token, it's always good to get a win. Last year, that third win of the season was a lot further down the road. To be able to say that we won the game and still didn't play well says a lot about their potential. Still, we're going to have to step it up as the schedule gets harder."
The Seminoles showed flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ball, combining hot offensive shooting streaks with a blanketing defense.
"We went in spurts, and we've been playing well in spurts lately," Wilkins said. "We'll have several minutes where we hardly score at all, then, boom, the next eight minutes we'll score 25 points. We've just got to get a level of consistency."
Julius Giles led the offensive effort with 22 points. Darius Ferguson added 18 and David Raudebaugh chipped in 12.
Salem coach Bill Roberts said the difference in his game was a lackadaisical first half.
"In the first half, we didn't come out aggressive, intense and ready to play," he said. "I think we played a little tight. In the second half, I felt like we were a different basketball team. We put that man pressure on them (Madison), and they started to turn the ball over."
The Lady Seminoles had no answer for the sister tandem of Courtney and Kayla Freeman, who combined to score 35 of their team's 54 points.
"I think the younger (Freeman) sister hurt us. Courtney (Freeman) didn't do much in the second half," Roberts said.
Roberts was right as Courtney Freeman scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half. In contrast, Kayla Freeman scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the second half.
Salem's offense was led by Courtney Hurt, who had an up-and-down night on the floor. Hurt tallied 20 points, but 10 were scored in the second quarter and eight were scored in the fourth frame.
Rebecca Mitchell contributed nine points, while Amber Johnson chipped in seven.
The loss was the third straight for the Lady Seminoles, who are now 2-3 on the season.
"Right now, I'm not worried about that at all," Roberts said. "I knew exactly what it was going to be like at the beginning of the season. I'm playing ninth- and 10th-graders right now. They're athletic and they're pretty good basketball players, but they're not quite ready yet. What happens right now is going to have very little bearing on what happens in January and February."
Both Salem squads hit the floor again Friday night in a doubleheader with Dacula.
Brandon Evans can be reached at email@example.com