ATLANTA - Salem's inexperience was too much to overcome against Mays in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs Saturday night.
The Lady Seminoles (20-9) were eliminated with a 66-56 loss to the Lady Raiders (17-8), who advance to host Hillgrove in the second round.
The Salem senior duo of Courtney Hurt and Rebecca Mitchell did its fair share of the damage in what turned out to be its final game. Hurt scored a game-high 30 points and added 10 rebounds, while Mitchell added 15 points as the duo combined for 45 of their team's 56 points.
But the Lady Seminoles' lack of a third scoring option allowed Mays to focus defensively on Hurt and Mitchell.
"They had three players and we had two," Salem coach Bill Roberts said. "I feel like our young players were just too passive. I don't think they were intimidated, but they were too passive out there. But you know they've never been here (to the playoffs) before and that makes a difference. We didn't match their aggressiveness for a lot of the game."
In the first quarter, Mays roared out to an early 9-0 lead before Hurt single-handedly rallied the Lady Seminoles. The senior scored 12 consecutive points to slice the deficit to 15-12.
However, the Lady Raiders went on an 11-3 run to close the quarter and took a 26-15 lead into the second quarter.
Mays pushed its advantage to 16 points before Hurt and Mitchell fashioned another rally. Mitchell had two 3-pointers and Hurt scored twice inside during a 10-0 run that cut the deficit to 31-25.
But that's as close as the Lady Seminoles got the rest of the game. Mays held off the Salem surge and took a 38-31 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Lady Seminoles scored only 11 points and the Lady Raiders took advantage of their lack of offensive production. Sade' Means scored 10 points in the third period alone as Mays built a 57-42 lead.
Foul trouble was another problem for Salem, as Hurt picked up her fourth foul late in the period.
"The third quarter decides a ball game, and it decided the ball game tonight," Roberts said. "They came out a little more aggressive, and we were just a little passive. When Courtney got into foul trouble, it threw us off a little bit."
In the fourth quarter, Mays flirted with pushing its lead to 20 or more points on several occasions, as the Lady Seminoles could not rally.
Kendra Long had a team-high 23 points for the Lady Raiders, while Charmene Means added 12.
Salem's Hurt, the school's all-time leading scorer, finished her career with 1,963 points, just 37 shy of 2,000.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.