DACULA - The Salem girls basketball team will be on the road for the first round of the state tournament after falling to Madison County on Friday in the semifinal round of the Region 8-AAAA tournament.
The Lady Seminoles secured a state berth after defeating Winder-Barrow on Thursday. However, Madison County ended Salem's hopes of hosting a first-round game by beating the Lady Seminoles 57-46.
Salem jumped out to an early lead, starting the game with a 5-0 run. However, the Lady Red Raiders closed out the quarter with a 15-6 run to take a 15-11 lead by the end of the period.
Things got worse for Salem as the game continued. Not only were the Lady Seminoles being out-rebounded by the Lady Red Raiders, but it was difficult for Salem to even get the ball across midcourt.
Madison led 27-20 at the break and 41-29 by the end of the third quarter. The Lady Seminoles made a small run at the end, but it was too little, too late.
"We started out strong, then they (Madison) kind of got rolling and got physical," said Salem coach Bill Roberts. "They got tough, especially Kayla (Freeman). She got physical with Ariel (Wynter), and that was the difference. They really did a good job of not letting Rebecca (Mitchell) handle the ball. We finally went to our freshman (Amber Johnson), and she did a good job in the fourth quarter. At that point, we hung with them and traded baskets. It was just a little late in the game."
The Seminoles were defeated despite another huge game by Hurt, who scored a game-high 36 points. Hurt scored 18 in each half.
Madison was led by the Freeman sisters - Courtney and Kayla - who each had 15 points.
Clarke Central girls 63, Heritage 40
The Heritage girls fell behind early against Clarke Central and never recovered in the quarterfinals of the Region 8-AAAA tournament, losing 63-40 Friday night at Dacula High School.
With the loss, the Lady Patriots will play at 4 p.m. today against Salem to determine who the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds are for the state tournament.
Turnovers were the key against Clarke Central as the Lady Patriots committed 13 in the first half. Meanwhile, the Lady Gladiators scored at will and built an uncatchable lead.
Clarke Central led 21-7 after the first quarter, 33-19 at the half and 55-33 as the two teams entered the final period.
"They're a very experienced team and they have a great bench. They have a lot of seniors and they're quick," said Heritage coach Dave LaBerrie.
Clarke Central was led by Terra Branch, who scored 11 of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter.
Heritage was led by Zanetta Gray with 15 points. Neicey Lewis added 9, Jasmine Lewis scored 8 and Precious Elkins added 6 to round out the scoring for the Lady Patriots.
The winner will earn a No. 3 seed at state, while the loser takes the No. 4 spot.
Region 8-AAAA is matched up with 5-AAAA in the first round of the state tournament.
Brandon Evans can be reached at email@example.com.