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Heritage girls slip by Salem

CONYERS -- Heritage had just enough to hold off its rival Tuesday in Conyers.

Aujana Dawkins had 10 points, 17 rebounds and six assists, including a key putback late, and the Patriots defeated Salem 41-39 in Region 8-AAAAA play.

Heritage, under first-year coach Lauren Chambers, improved to 4-5 overall and 4-2 in league play while Salem dropped to 3-6 and 2-4 against region foes.

Dawkins rebounded a missed free throw and scored to put Heritage up 41-37 with 25 seconds left in the game, but Taylor King banked in a runner in the lane to get Salem to within two with 13 seconds left.

After a Salem timeout, a missed layup by Heritage and a scramble for a loose ball, the Seminoles wound up with possession and three seconds to play. A well-executed in-bounds play led to Brianna Bush getting a good look in the corner for a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but the shot went off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

Salem capped a 10-1 run and led 30-23 on a 3-pointer by Rodgers with 1:43 to play in the third, but Heritage went on a run of its own, scoring 14 of the next 16 points -- Dawkins had two baskets and assisted on three others during the spurt -- and took the lead for good.

Salem got as close as 38-37 on a putback by Jennifer Tindi (eight points, 16 rebounds) with 1:16 left.It was a defensive struggle for much of the opening half. Heritage got a runner from Alexis Hawkins and a Sierra Crosson putback to go up 5-0 four minutes into the game. Guards Nikkira Brown and Shay Tarver didn't start for the visiting Seminoles, but the two entered the game at the 3:07 mark and Tarver made 1 of 2 free throws to finally get Salem on the board with 2:49 left in the first.

Tarver fed Brown for a long 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to cut the deficit to 7-6, but the Seminoles had another dry spell at the start of the second. While the Seminoles went another 4:30 without a point, the Patriots built a lead as large as eight points, the last at 16-8 on Crosson's bucket at the 3:11 mark.

Salem got it going in the final two minutes before halftime. Tindi had a layup and Rodgers and King hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 16-16. With two seconds to play, Damali Thomas found Crosson for the final two of her seven first-half points to send Heritage into the locker room up 18-16.

For Heritage, Crosson scored 14 points and 10 rebounds, while King led the Seminoles with 10 points.

The Heritage and Salem boys played in the nightcap, which ended too late for this edition.