The Salem High girls’ basketball team won more games than they did last year, which wasn’t hard since they didn’t win any last year. However, the difference on the court was far more than the four games the Spartans won this season.
“We were a much better team this year, and I like the direction we’re moving,” said Salem coach Corbitt Hairston. “We really battled this year. We never stopped competing on the defensive end.”
Salem finished 4-16 overall, and the Spartans’ season came to an end with a 65-40 loss to Patrick Henry in the opening round of the River Ridge District tournament last week. Salem did not make the region, and the girls knew that going into the district tourney, but they played their hearts out none the less.
“If we had won the tournament we still weren’t going to the regional,” said Hairston. “I’d like to see the River Ridge tournament have a little teeth in it. I know they’re trying to critique the system and maybe they can make some changes next year. If you win the district tournament you should be in the regional.”
Salem, the last seed in the district, gave the Patriots all they could handle for the first half. The Spartans had an 11-8 lead after the first quarter. PH made a run near the end of the half and led 28-17 at intermission, then put it away by outscoring Salem 16-6 in the third quarter. Katie Evans led Salem with 11 points and Deneja Hampton had 10.
Salem will graduate Hampton, Brianna Merritt and Amanda Woody but everyone else returns. Katie Evans made second team all-district and Alla Daniel, Kendra Bolen and Hampton all made honorable mention and only Hampton is a senior. In addition, the Salem jayvee team was 15-3 and Andrew Lewis Middle School was undefeated. Brighter days appear to be on the horizon.
“We had some jayvee girls who could have helped us this year but I wanted them to have some success on the jayvee level,” said Hairston. “When they get here I want them to expect to win.”
Salem got a signature win last week when the girls beat Pulaski on “Senior Night.”
“It was the first time I saw this group really excited about a win, laughing and hollering in the lockerroom,” said Hairston. “I have an uncle who said Rome wasn’t built in a day, and UConn wasn’t built in a year.”