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Salem girls roll into second round

— Ayana Mitchell had 29 points and 14 rebounds to lead a balanced offensive attack as the Salem girls overwhelmed Paulding County, 74-40 in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.

Salem, fresh off the program’s first region title in eight years, will try to extend its winning streak to nine games when it hosts Tucker in this weekend’s round of 16.

Salem (19-10) led by 16 at halftime, but turned it into a rout during a lopsided third quarter.

Shay Tarver, who had just one point in the first half, exploded for 13 of her 14 points in the third as the Seminoles build a 63-30 lead heading to the final period.

The Salem defense forced 16 first-half turnovers, which led to 20 points at the other end.

Paulding County had cut the deficit to 16-10 on a free throw by Keshia Shy at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter, but the Seminoles took control from that point. Led by Mitchell, who had 17 points in the opening half, Salem scored 11 of the next 13 points to go up 27-12 with just under three minutes to go.

The visitors tried to stay close, getting to within 10 points at 27-17 on Shy’s field goal with 2:10 to play.

But Salem finished the half on a 10-4 run-Nikkira Brown had a bucket and an assist-to go into the locker room up 37-21.

Jennifer Tindi added 10 points and eight rebounds for Salem, which snapped a five-game losing streak in the state tournament. Shy had 12 points and Crystal Maner added 11 for Paulding County (20-7).