FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Salem boys basketball team is considered one of the favorites in Region 8-AAAAA. Tuesday in Hall County, the Seminoles got their promising league campaign off to a good start.
Dedrick Turner scored 23 points, including 12 during a decisive third quarter, and Salem rolled to a 64-45 victory over Flowery Branch in the region opener for both schools.
Salem (2-1, 1-0) led 30-22 at halftime, but Turner, one of the top unsigned seniors in the state, took over in the third. First, the combo guard handed out a pair of assists on buckets by Damion Gordon and Michael Johnson to push the lead out to 12. After a three-pointer from Jamaal Garror, Turner hit a leaner, then stole a pass and had a conventional three-point play at the other end. With the Falcons trying to stay close, Turner went 4-for-4 from the free throw line and drained a long three-pointer to help the Seminoles close out the quarter up 49-36.
"Having Dedrick attack (Flowery Branch) really got us up for the third quarter," first-year Salem coach Noah Harrell said. "We have the idea that we have the athletes; we want to push the tempo."
Turner had two more of his five assists in the fourth as Salem led by as many as 21.
Flowery Branch, playing its season opener, scored the first five points of the game on a three-pointer by Eric Little, the senior's only points of the game, and a bucket from Jaleel Bailey. But the Falcons' offense went cold (4:38 without a point) and Salem grabbed the lead for good, scoring the next 12 points and ending the opening quarter on a 17-2 spurt, five coming from Turner on an alley-oop dunk and another long three-pointer.
The hosts got as close as five points in the second on a three-point play by Nick Wayne at the 4:50 mark, but Turner scored four points and Gordon got one of his three first-half assists on a bucket by Demyon Greenwood to send the Seminoles into the locker room up by eight.
Salem, which also got 12 points from Garror and eight from Johnson, will try to remain unbeaten in region play when it hosts Winder-Barrow at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
"That was a good win because that's our first region game," Harrell said. "Got Winder on Friday."