Conyers A new era has begun for the Salem girl’s basketball program. Freshman Ayanna Mitchell had 30 points and 11 rebounds and the Seminoles rolled in their season opener, 58-23 over Henry County.
By the time Salem had built a 48-19 cushion on a field goal by Nikkira Brown, Mitchell, a first-year player from Memorial Middle School just a few blocks down the street, had gotten the rest of the night off. Her fellow freshman, guard Shay Tarver had also impressed, scoring 10 points to go along with three assists.
Mitchell was a one-woman show in the first quarter as the 6-2 center scored all 18 of Salem’s points. A pair of free throws, which followed one of her three steals in the quarter, capped a quick 6-0 run and put the Seminoles up 12-7.
Mitchell, who had 28 points and eight rebounds during the first 16 minutes, continued to stand out in the second, but this time her fellow freshman got involved as well. Shay Tarver scored the first non-Mitchell basket of the game early in the quarter, and after her put back, Mitchell assisted on Tarver’s field goal to put the hosts up 24-15 with 5:28 to play. Henry County committed five of its 12 first half turnovers during a stretch in the second that saw Salem turn that nine-point lead into its largest lead of the half at 36-17 on Tarver’s two free throws just before halftime.
“It felt fine,” Mitchell said of her first varsity game. “I was really pleased with my teammates because we all worked together.”
The youth movement extended to the sophomore class as Jennifer Tindi added six points and 10 rebounds. For the visiting Warhwaks, who scored just nine second half points, Natalie Harice led the way with 12 points.