Head Coach Chad Pittman has been saying for the last three weeks that his team's destiny is in their control.
Following a close loss to Greater Atlanta Christian on Jan. 17 he told the Dawson County Tigers that even though they may not be able to finish first or second in the region, they could control their own destiny by winning out.
So they did.
"I said if we win out, you can be third. For us to have enough character and pride to do that, I was really proud. That was good," Pittman said.
The team did it by winning the last five straight region games, including last week's wins over Fannin County and East Hall at home.
"It was a great week," Pittman said. "I think it's just we've been so close all year and hopefully we have learned from those things. Hopefully that was evident the last few games."
Now 13-11 overall and 7-5 in Region 7-AAA, the team is headed into the region tournament in third place, a better seeding than originally thought.
The team hosted a No. 7 in Class AAA East Hall on Jan. 31 that was coming off a huge region win over top-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian. The Tigers won that game 81-73.
Dawson was down early to the Vikings with misses on multiple opening drives before Ryan Gallenkamp scored from the free throw line and Cullen Reed drove for two.
Jeremiah hit a three after a Tiger timeout on his way to 21 points in the game.
Dawson would call another timeout with East Hall leading 16-8 in the second quarter and an irate Pittman handing out some constructive criticism.
On the next possession, Reed was literally dragged to the floor but went to the line and converted both shots.
Kane Pelfrey put in 2 points and Crumley hit a three falling down. Pelfrey had his season high 14 points in the game.
On the next possession Coey Watson drove from one end to the other to score underneath and Campbell Reed drained a three down low to take the lead at 24-22 and prompt a Viking time out.
Campbell Reed hit another 3-pointer up top after Gallenkamp put back his own rebound.
Watson drove and drew the call for a 3-point play before half when Dawson held a 35-34 lead.
Out of half, the Vikings picked up a steal, rebound and put back, a foul shot, two underneath and drew a charge before the Tigers would get back to work again.
Pelfrey scored down low and Watson fed him again two plays later.
Then Pelfrey picked up a steal and scored at the opposite end to tie the game again at 42.
Joseph Cronan scored 5 points in the first half and 12 in the second beginning with 3-pointer from the right side near the end of the quarter.
After three, Dawson was down 5.
A Crumley three with less than six minutes to play would tie it again at 61, before a couple of miscues would result in Tiger turn overs.
Crumely picked up a steal and converted it into a 3-point play on the other end to give the lead to Dawson County at 64-63.
The Tigers would lead the rest of the way.
On Feb. 3 the Tigers hosted Union County for senior night and came away with a 58-51 win.
"Sometimes you grind them out and you get a win," Pittman said. "I feel like that is kind of what we did on Friday. We weren't superb, but we were good enough to win."
Crumley had a big night with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
In the opening quarter, Crumley had a steal and drove to put in two before getting fouled on the next possession and draining both from the line.
After a Dawson timeout, he added a 3-pointer from down low on the right side and went to the line again after a Gallenkamp block.
At the end of one, the teams were tied at 14.
Watson fed Crumley on fast break for an easy two and then Watson drove himself for two more.
"Coey had a really good night Friday night," Pittman said. "He had a bunch of assists and 9 points. I thought his decisions were some of the best of the season. I think he gave us a huge spark in that game Friday."
Watson had five assists as well as five steals.
At the half, Dawson had a 31-25 lead over Union.
Watson drove for 2 points after a traveling call against the Panthers early in the third.
Crumley put in another 3 points from the top right before Watson would get the steal and score off the turnover.
Watson picked up another steal after Crumley put in one of two from the line.
Near the end of the period, Cronan drained a 3 and Dawson led 42-33 heading into the fourth.
Cronan added another long 3-pointer up top before the Panthers fought back with two 3-pointers of their own.
Cronan finished with 11 points and Reed with 10.
On the next trip down, Corey Hammond had a massive block that drew screams from the crowd.
Dawson called a timeout with 1:41 to play and a 6-point lead.
Out of the break, Reed put two in from the line and the Panthers would continue to foul.
Crumley and Cronan were perfect at the line down the stretch.
The Tigers begin play in the region tournament today when the team travels to East Hall where they will play Union County again at 6 p.m.
"Obviously we are on a five-game winning streak so hopefully we have got some confidence and believe in what we are doing," Pittman said. "We have a great opportunity Wednesday."
If the team wins, they will face the winner of Fannin County and East Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Union County. The region championship game is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 also at Union County.