The Dawson County Parks & Rec 12U Lady Tigers girls basketball team did the unthinkable when they traveled to compete in the GRPA Class B State Basketball Tournament in Carrollton, Ga. last weekend.
The 12U Lady Tigers battled their way to within one point of being crowned State Champions.
The team earned a bid to the tournament by winning the District 7 tournament, Feb. 28 - March 1.
The 12U Lady Tigers faced four formidable opponents, in what could be considered epic battles, on their road to earning second in state. Each game, outside of pool play, was a must-win in the single elimination format.
In the first game, the 12U Lady Tigers pulled off a huge upset versus defending champs and host Carrollton in pool play. The 12U Lady Tigers offense came out strong, while the defense held their own against the defending champions. In the end, the 12U Lady Tigers came out on top 48-41. Madison Anglin had the hot hand and led Dawson County in scoring with 17 points.
The win pitted Dawson County against Effingham County the next day. The 12U Lady Tigers jumped all over Effingham, catapulting them to a lopsided 52-28 victory. The defense of the 12U Lady Tigers proved superior in the game. Anglin matched her play versus Carrollton, once again leading Dawson County in scoring with 17 points.
The win advanced the 12U Lady Tigers to the semi-finals where they faced off versus Murray County. Murray County proved to be evenly matched with Dawson County.
Coach Stephanie Sosebee described Murray County as, a solid team, tough opponent and the team to beat.
The first half remained a neck-and-neck affair until Dawson County was able to make a run. They would lead Murray County by six at halftime. In the second half, both teams would struggle with foul trouble. Despite the foul situation, both teams offenses kept pace with each other. Dawson Countys six point halftime lead would prove crucial with the end score being decided by that exact margin. Dawson County would be victorious 41-35. Marlie Odum led the 12U Lady Tigers in scoring with an impressive 19 points.
The close win against Murray County set the stage for a rematch of pool play. The Lady Tigers once again faced Carrollton. But, this time it was for all the glory. This time the game was to determine the GRPA State Champions.
Motivated by avenging their pool play loss to the 12U Lady Tigers, Carrollton jumped to an early 12-4 lead to start the championship game. It marked the first time Dawson County had trailed in the tournament. Carrollton continued to build their lead and momentum in the second quarter, increasing their lead to 10 points by halftime. Seemingly out of gas, the Tigers watched the lead extend to as many as 22 points in the second half. Dawson County struggled to make foul shots which contributed to Carrolltons lead. The 12U Lady Tigers shot 10 of 43 from the charity stripe.
Almost written off by the crowd, the Lady Tigers took their game into a whole new gear with 3:30 left in the game. Dawson County chipped away at Carrolltons lead until they closed the gap to three points with 30 seconds left on the clock. Rachel Swafford led the 12U Lady Tigers in scoring, knocking down eight points for Dawson County.
With two seconds left, Bell Tinsley connected with a layup that brought Dawson County within one point. However, Dawson County would not get another offensive chance. As time expired, the State Championship dreams of the 12U Lady Tigers faded with a final score of 39-38.
Assistant coach Jacob Tinsley and I are very proud of the girls, said Sosebee after the tournament. No matter what this past weekends outcome was, the girls are State Champs in our eyes. The girls definitely left everything they had on the court. Tinsley and I have enjoyed coaching this group of girls and are sad to see them advance on to middle school ball. But, we will never forget the journey we have had with them.
Dawson County Commissioner James Swafford, whose granddaughter Rachel Swafford plays for the 12U Lady Tigers gave praises to the team, as well.
The team did an awesome job, said Swafford. They played their hearts out and showed great sportsmanship. You couldnt ask for a better group of ladies to represent Dawson County.