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.