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Eagles, Lady Noles chalk up victories

JEFFERSON - The Salem girls and Eastside boys basketball teams gathered wins Wednesday in the Tabo's Tip-Off Tournament at Jefferson High School.

The Lady Seminoles (3-1) overcame the Central Gwinnett Lady Knights 54-37 and will next play Oconee County at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the tournament.

"It's early on and we're making a lot of mistakes that we need to work on and fix," Salem coach Bill Roberts said. "But overall, they're trying to play team ball. They scrap and they hustle after everything, and just play with a whole lot of heart and soul."

Salem's Ariel Wynter recorded a double-double, registering 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Seminoles jumped out to a 30-11 lead by halftime. The closest Central Gwinnett got came after a basket by Alyonia Hill to end the third quarter, making it 36-26.

Jazzmin Dupree, who added 11 points off the bench, hit three consecutive shots in the fourth quarter to give Salem a 45-30 advantage with five minutes and 35 seconds remaining.

"That was huge," Roberts said. "You know that you've got a good quality team when you've got kids coming off the bench and helping you get through ball games like this. She's a spot-up shooter. When they went to zone, we would go to her and let her shoot the ball because she can flat out shoot it. She did what she needed to do for her team."

Despite turning it over nine times in the fourth frame - 17 in the second half alone - Salem's athleticism and shooting proved too much. The Lady Seminoles were 6-of-11 from the field and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe.

Jaleen Thomas, who grabbed 11 boards, and Precious Elkins each had seven points.

In the boys game, the Eagles topped the Seminoles 61-46 despite a combined 64 turnovers.

As a result, Eastside will play at 2 p.m. Saturday, while Salem faces Oconee County at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Overall, Eastside (1-1) turned it over 35 times compared to Salem's 29. The difference was that Salem did not capitalize.

"I knew this group was going to play hard," Eastside coach Michael Gerald said. "It's just a matter of executing offensively in transition. They're just going to give us all we can, and that's all you can ask from them. It's very, very encouraging to see them go out and play as hard as they do and execute."

Eastside never trailed, leaping to a 17-7 lead after the first stanza. The Eagles extended their lead 30-15 after a made basket by JaCorey Maddox before Salem's Tevin Bradley drilled a 3-pointer to end the half.

Bradley finished with eight points.

Salem cut the deficit 45-33 after the third quarter after forcing 10 turnovers and shooting 50 percent from the field (6-of-12). Antony Armstrong scored all six of his points during that run.

But Salem's shots found the iron unkind in the fourth. Eastside's defense clamped down, forcing 15 missed shots.

"It is early and we have to learn from it," Salem coach Darren Wilkins said. "I'd rather this happen and we learn from it now as opposed to (later), and that's what these tournaments are for - to try to learn from it and learn about ourselves.

"We've got to shoot better, which I think we will in time. The tricky thing about basketball is when you're not playing well a lot of times a bad break will go against you that will give the team something. So we've just got to get to the point where we're aggressive and playing smart so we get more breaks that go our way."

Eastside's Eric Shy had a game-high 15 points. Dominique Hubert and Dominique Wright added 12 apiece.

Salem's Jonathon Slade had eight points.

"I didn't feel like we were mentally focused," Wilkins said. "We have to dig deeper within ourselves and get to that level of consistency where we're playing and doing the things we do well all the time, because when we get in trouble sometimes we resort to bad habits. We've been preaching play to our strengths and not our weaknesses."

Jason Murdock can be reached at jason.murdock@rockdalecitizen.com.