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Bulldogs bounce back, grab No. 3 seed

LOGANVILLE -- The Rockdale boys basketball team rebounded from a one-point loss in the semifinals and beat rival Salem 73-61 in the Region 8-AAAA tournament third-place game Friday at Loganville High School.

The Bulldogs (19-8) will open the Class AAAA state tournament as the No. 3 seed, traveling to Region 7-AAAA No. 2 Woodland, while No. 4 seed Salem (18-9) will head to the Region 7 champion Chattahoochee when the first round begins Saturday.

The Seminoles led by four at halftime before Rockdale took over. The Bulldogs started the second half strong as C.J. Wilson, who earlier in the day learned he was named the region's player of the year, scored six points during a 12-3 spurt that put Rockdale up 45-40. Salem pulled to within 50-46 during the early stages of the fourth, but Rockdale scored 18 of the next 24 points to build its largest lead at 68-52 with just under two minutes left in the game.

"It was really good to come out and get a win against a rival," said Wilson. "The loss (in Thursday's semifinals) and having to turn around the next day, it was real big."

"It's hard to come back from that, I got to give it to my kids," Bulldogs coach Alvin Williams said of bouncing back from the semifinal loss. "We went in at halftime; all we talked about was mental toughness ... the talk was 'Let's win this game.'"

Dedrick Turner led all scorers with 23 points and averaged 19 points during the tournament. Wilson followed his 35-point semifinal performance against Cedar Shoals with a team-high 19 points Friday, and averaged 24.3 points in three tournament games.