MCDONOUGH - The Salem girls basketball team overcame a slow start in its season opener and cruised to a 63-30 win over Whitewater on Monday at Union Grove High School in the first round of the Heritage Bank Classic.
The Lady Seminoles (1-0) only led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter.
However, a 17-1 run to start the second helped Salem double the Lady Wildcats in scoring by halftime, leading 34-17.
The scoring surge continued in the third quarter as Salem went up 46-22. Kentrell White, who had three 3-pointers in the game, scored eight of her 11 points in the third period.
Senior standout Courtney Hurt looked solid as she scored a game-high 25 points and snagged six rebounds in the win.
Rebecca Mitchell also had a sensational game with 20 points and a game-high seven steals.
Despite all the offensive outpouring, Salem coach Bill Roberts said the key to the win was defensive pressure.
"For us, the more pressure we put on people, the better we are offensively," Roberts said. "If we're really moving defensively and putting a lot of pressure on a team, it pumps up our offensive game. I think they (Whitewater) were really trying to focus on shutting Courtney (Hurt) down, but we just have so many shooters now. Teams can't really focus on just stopping us in the paint."
Roberts said he was also impressed with the effort and of his team Monday night.
"I like the way we ran the floor, and I like the way we shared the basketball," he said. "I was also really impressed with Jaleen Thomas coming off the bench. She had some big rebounds and some big scores for us. Of course, Kentrell (White) was also big. You can't leave her alone. She can score, she's a heck of a defender and she's aggressive."
With the win, the Lady Seminoles advance to play the winner of Union Grove and Woodland at 7 p.m. Friday.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.