CONYERS - It wasn’t a blowout victory like they’d grown accustomed to, but the Salem girls basketball team picked up one more convincing win Saturday.
Ayanna Mitchell and Jennifer Tindi each had a double-double and Shay Tarver scored 13 points as Salem defeated Newton 53-41 in non-region play.
The Seminoles won their eighth consecutive game, and though the first seven wins were by an average margin of 33 points, the hosts were rarely threatened in game eight.
“We really executed the game plan,” Salem coach Rochone Dilligard said. “I don’t know if a coach is ever (completely) happy because you can always get better. But I’m happy with the improvements and the road that we’re on.”
Newton went nearly four and a half minutes in the opening half without a field goal, which allowed Salem to take the lead for good.
The Rams got a bucket by Cynteria Langhorne to go up 11-10 with three minutes to play in the opening quarter, but Salem followed with a long run.
Tarver, who had 11 of her points in the first half, knocked down a 3-pointer to get the Seminoles started on a 12-0 spurt that helped the hosts equal their largest lead of the half at 22-11.
Newton got as close as 29-22 when Imani Braodnax grabbed an offensive rebound and hit two free throws with just over two minutes until halftime. Tarver closed the half with a free throw and a pretty baseline drive for a lay up that sent Salem into the locker room up 32-22.
Mitchell had her double-double by halftime, contributing 10 of her 15 points and rebounds by the break.
The visiting Rams pulled to within 36-28 on Deandra Reed’s basket at the 3:43 mark of the third before Salem extended its lead to as much as 17 points, thanks in large part to a 13-of-16 effort from the free-throw line in the final 16 minutes.
For Newton, which fell to 8-6, Sonia Forney led all scorers with 16 points, though none of Forney’s teammates had more than six points. Tindi had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Salem (10-2).
Jalen Glover took over in the third quarter of the nightcap, helping Newton pull away in a 66-44 victory.
Newton just 32-27 midway through the third before Glover knocked down three of his four 3-pointers in the period, and Darvin Jones added another long ball to put the visitors up 48-32.
Salem (4-10) tried to stay close with its own three-point arsenal, and after threes by Kristopher Bridgeman and Robert Baker, it was a 56-40 game at the 4:15 mark. Glover had one more bucket to polish off a 24-point night as the Rams scored the final eight points of the game.
Early on, Newton shot the ball well from the outside and finished the first half up 37-26.
Glover picked up eight of his points during a three-minute stretch in the opening quarter, draining a pair of 3-pointers and finishing an alley-oop dunk that put the Rams up 18-8 late in the opening period.
Bridgeman hit two 3-pointers and Michael Green added one of his own to keep the Seminoles within striking distance. But Salem was held to just five second-quarter points and Jones drained a three from the corner with two seconds left to give Newton a 27-16 halftime cushion.
Austin Samuel led Salem with 13 points and Bridgeman added 12 off the bench for Salem. Jones added 12 for Newton, which improved to 11-3.