The gym was rocking and the noise was deafening in Dawsonville on Friday night as the seventh-ranked Rabun County Wildcats came to town.
Rabun (12-2) jumped out to an early 17-14 lead, but Dawson (13-3) was able to keep the deficit manageable at the half, 32-28.
We were able to keep the game fairly low-scoring by playing excellent defense and rebounding, said Dawson head coach Thad Burgess.
The second half was all about what the Tigers could do to close the gap.
We battled to stay close all night, Burgess said, and had a chance to win at the end.
But the Wildcats were able to hit just one too many free-throws late in the game to allow a Tigers comeback, grabbing a 58-56 win.
[Rabun] started five seniors that had played in the State Tournament last year, Burgess added and we played no seniors with four new starters, that played a role in the outcome.
Bruce Clark led the Tigers with 15 points, while Will Anglin added 14 and Tyler Dominy chipped in 11.
Dawson rebounded with a win on the road the next night against rival Lumpkin County 54-47.
Clark led the Tigers with 17, Dominy added 12, while Gunnar Armstrong also finished with a dozen.