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Salem survives Loganville in semis, moves on to region final

The Salem girls basketball team wasn’t at full strength or at its best Tuesday, but the defending league champions just kept right on winning anyway.

Taylor King had the go-ahead basket in overtime and the Salem defense held host Loganville scoreless in the extra session of a 41-36 victory in the semifinals of the Region 8-AAAAA Tournament.

The top seed Seminoles (23-2) won their 21st consecutive game and will attempt to win consecutive region titles when they play second-seeded Clarke Central Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.

It looked as if Salem would have a comfortable victory. Despite playing without point guard Shay Tarver, who suffered an ankle injury in Monday’s quarterfinal win over Heritage, the Seminoles led 34-23 after Jennifer Tindi’s bucket at the 6:29 mark of the fourth quarter. That was the last field goal Salem would get in regulation, while fifth-seeded Loganville got hot from behind the arc.

Salem maintained its 11-point lead at 36-25 on two free throws from Paris Scott, but Bethany Bowers scored eight straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers that got the Red Devils to within 36-33 with a minute and a half to play. Salem turned the ball over at the other end, leading to Haley Rink’s tying 3-pointer with one minute left, which capped an 11-0 run.

Each team had a shot blocked, including Scott’s attempt that led to a jump ball and a Loganville possession. Rink’s potential go-ahead three missed with eight seconds to play, as did Rosie Kyles’ running 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

Loganville had three turnovers in overtime, but thanks to Salem missing six of its seven free throws in the period, the Red Devils still had a chance to pull even. Trailing 39-36, Kelly Ackerman was wide open from behind the arc, but her shot was well short at the 10-second mark, allowing Salem to hang on and advance to the final.

Loganville led 15-11 two minutes into the second quarter before Salem finally got going. Starting with a put back by Ayanna Mitchell, the Seminoles had a 14-0 spurt that stretched into the early stages of the third and made it a 25-15 game.

In the third, Loganville got as close as 27-20 on Rink’s jumper at the 5:32 mark.

Mitchell had game-highs in both points (18) and rebounds (13), while Bowers paced Loganville with 17 points.