CONYERS - So far, the Salem girls are really enjoying crossover play in Region 8-AAAA.
The Lady Seminoles (8-1 overall) improved to 5-0 against 8-AAAA competition with a 57-41 victory over visiting Winder-Barrow (4-2).
In the boys game, Salem (3-6) rallied twice from double-digit deficits before falling 66-60 to the Bulldoggs (5-1).
Salem 57, Winder-Barrow 41
With Salem center Ariel Wynter and Winder-Barrow center Mimi Hill saddled with foul trouble, the Lady Seminoles got a big effort inside from Precious Elkins.
"There were a lot of strange things in the game. Both Ariel and Mimi got into foul trouble. The coach from Winder couldn't leave her in (the game), and I couldn't keep Ariel in," Salem coach Bill Roberts said. "It was one of those nights where nothing went smoothly, so we just had to gut it out."
The senior forward had 26 points and 19 rebounds, including 17 points and 11 rebounds in the first half as the Lady Seminoles built a 27-25 halftime lead.
Salem got the big effort from Elkins, despite the fact she was battling an illness.
"Precious was absolutely huge for us, she's just a gutsy player," Roberts said. "She's been at home in bed since one o'clock sick. She came out tonight and did what she needed to do not feeling well."
In the third quarter, the Lady Bulldoggs took a 31-29 lead before Salem reeled off the final eight points of the period. Shardai Harrison started the run with a bucket, Elkins added a pair of free throws and scored off a rebound while Kentrell White finished the run with two free throws.
Winder-Barrow closed its deficit to five, at 46-41, with 3:30 left in the contest.
But Elkins ignited an 11-0 run to close the game for the Lady Seminoles. The senior nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing to start the scoring spree and then followed with a bucket inside.
Harrison, Jaleen Thomas and Amber Johnson finished off the run for Salem.
"We made shot big shots in the fourth quarter," Roberts said. "And then, we forced a couple turnovers when we switched up our press, going from man-to-man to zone. It confused them for a minute and it gave us a chance to stretch our lead."
Winder-Barrow 66, Salem 60
Just like the girls game, an inside player also dominated the boys contest.
Unfortunately for Salem, it was Winder-Barrow's Jodd Maxey.
The senior had 31 points and 11 boards for the Bulldoggs, including 18 points in the second half to help his team fend off a Salem rally.
In the first half, Winder-Barrow built a 15-point lead off Maxey's bucket inside with 2:22 remaining until halftime.
However, the Seminoles fought back and rallied with a 10-1 run to close out the half. Tevin Bradley started Salem's comeback with a layup, Terrence Bennett continued the run with a 3-pointer and a follow off an offensive rebound, and Bradley closed it out with a pair of free throws.
In the third quarter, Salem cut its deficit to 38-36 before Maxey's scored eight points during a 10-0 run by the Bulldoggs that pushed their lead to 12.
Once again, the Seminoles rallied in the fourth quarter. This time, JoJo Smith hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to 50-47 with 5:12 left to play.
Later on, Smith nailed another trey to pull Salem within four at 57-53 with only 1:20 remaining.
But the Seminoles never got any closer.
"I felt like tonight we played better than we have in a good while. We played hard with a lot of moxie, probably better than we have in the last few games," Salem coach Darren Wilkins said. "Tonight, I saw a lot more activity, a lot more energy, a lot more teamwork and camaraderie, and that helped us play better."
Bennett finished with a team-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers, for Salem, while Bradley finished with 14.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.