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Salem boys, girls reach region tournament finals

— Saturday is shaping up to be the biggest day in the history of Salem basketball. Both the boys and girl’s teams won semi final games Friday at the Region 8-AAAAA Tournament at Apalachee High School, setting up dual region championship games Saturday.

The No. 2 seed boys defeated Loganville, 71-59 behind 24 points from Dedrick Turner, and will try for the first league title in the program’s history when they play at 8:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the semi final game between No. 1 seed Gainesville and No. 5 Apalachee.

The girls equaled the feat later in the night, knocking off top seed Flowery Branch, 57-47. Salem, the No. 4 seed, will play No. 3 seed Clarke Central (a 45-38 winner over county rival Cedar Shoals in the other semi final) in Saturday’s title game at 7:00 p.m.

The boy's game turned in the third quarter, where Salem turned a two-point halftime deficit into an 18-point lead.

Both teams were red-hot to start the period, trading baskets on each trip down the floor, with Loganville grabbing the lead at 32-31 on a pair of free throws by D.J. Evans with 5:10 left.

It was all Salem after that.

Garror assisted on a bucket by Michael Johnson, which started the Seminoles on a 19-0, quarter-ending run. Turner, an uncommitted senior, had eight points in the quarter and Jousel Lumpkin added seven of his 12 points, including the last five. Lumpkin banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Salem went into the final period up 50-32.

"The big thing was, second half they went man (to-man defense) and we came out and attacked," said Harrell.

Loganville, the No. 6 seed, chipped away in the fourth, getting two early 3-pointers from Ta'Kien Dixson, which helped cap a 10-0 run and make it 54-46 with just under five minutes to play. But Garror knocked down a big 3-pointer in the corner, and Turner followed with a steal and dunk to push it back to 62-51 with 2:45 left. Loganville made it a six-point game at the 1:32 mark on the final field goal by Evans (21 points). But Salem was excellent from the free throw line down the stretch, hitting 9-of-10 over the final two minutes to seal the win.

As it did for their classmates, the turning point came in the third quarter for the Salem girls. The Seminoles trailed 28-25 after a basket by Breanna Locke, but Salem scored the next 10 points-Shay Tarver had four points and two assists during the run-and led 35-28 midway through the quarter.

Flowery Branch pulled to within 35-30 on Jacy Ramey's bucket, but it was Salem's night. Rosie Kyles and Ayana Mitchell had consecutive three-point plays and Tarver scored again on a lay up to make it 43-33 heading to the final quarter.

In the fourth, the Falcons, who lost for just the second time in 17 region games, got as close as 45-39 off a banked-in 3-pointer by Ramey (team-high 15 points).

Mitchell led all scorers with 18 points and Nikkira Brown added 16 points for Salem. Locke added 12 points for Flowery Branch, who missed the sharp shooting of Marissa Ivey, who struggled shooting the ball and finished with just four points.