CONYERS - It was a tale of two distinctly different second halves Friday night for the Salem basketball teams.
In the girls game, the Lady Seminoles (3-3) relied on the inside duo of Courtney Hurt and Ariel Wynter in the second half to end a three-game slide with a 61-55 decision over Dacula.
In the nightcap, the Salem boys (3-3) missed seven free throws in the fourth quarter and scored only 23 points in the second half as the Falcons held on for a 58-55 victory.
Trailing 21-18 at halftime, the Lady Seminoles made one small adjustment that made all the difference in the second half.
In the second half, Salem made a concentrated effort to get the ball inside to Hurt, a senior, and Wynter, a sophomore.
"I went in at halftime and I convinced them if they would get the ball in the paint, they won't stop us," Salem girls coach Bill Roberts said. "Hurt had nine points in the first half, and then had 21 points in the second half. You know you're not going to beat that. We had to adjust because they played a box-and-one on her (Hurt) in the first half.
"You have to say something about Ariel, too, because she came up big for us (in the second half). Every time she gets on the floor, she's getting better and better. That helps us out a lot."
Hurt scored 21 of her game-high 30 points in the second half, including 15 in the third quarter as the Lady Seminoles took a 38-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Wynter scored six of her 10 points as Salem continued to collect dividends on its size advantage inside.
"We looked more like ourselves in the second half," Roberts said. "It's the best we've looked in a couple of weeks."
Hurt and Wynter also dominated the boards, combining for 22 boards (Hurt 12 and Wynter 10).
Jasmine Patrick added nine points for the Lady Seminoles.
In the boys game, Salem raced out to a 18-10 lead in the first quarter thanks to seven points and five rebounds from senior center Zach Roddenberry.
But Dacula closed the second quarter with a 15-7 run to slice Salem's advantage down to 32-30 by halftime.
In the second half, the Falcons slowed down the tempo and took control of the game when Clay Wages hit a pair of 3-point bombs near the end of the third quarter, giving his team a 42-40 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Seminoles cut their deficit to one - twice - on three-point plays by Julius Giles and Darius Ferguson.
But Dacula nailed 10 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to salt away the victory. On the other hand, Salem missed seven of its 15 free throws in the final period.
"I told the guys I felt like we did a lot of the right things down the stretch, but we missed some free throws that we've been hitting," Salem boys coach Darren Wilkins said. "We've been shooting over 70 percent all season, and, in the last three games, 78 and above. As we keep going on, we'll get those."
Ferguson paced Salem with 16 points, while Roddenberry finished the game with 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.