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BASKETBALL: Both Dawson teams look to learn from opening losses
Abby Samples-Slaton drives toward the basket during the game against Creekview Saturday, Nov. 12. - photo by Rio White

The Dawson County boys and girls varsity basketball teams began their seasons a the Dawson County Tip-Off Classic Saturday, Nov. 12, with the girls falling 50-46 to Creekview and the boys losing 71-34 to River Ridge.

The girls team would start out the Dawson basketball slate with a back-and-forth tussle with 6A Creekview.

For new head coach Will Anglin, the challenging opponent would give him a chance to see the team’s cohesion and resolve. Despite the eventual loss, Anglin drew some positive elements from the game.

“We definitely didn’t have our best night offensively, but that was partly because of Creekview’s defense,” Anglin said. “I thought we really battled defensively and shared the ball well. That’s a good team to hold to 50 points.”

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Fighting through an early deficit and shooting woes, the Lady Tigers managed to stay on even terms with the Lady Grizzlies by the time halftime rolled around. 

Dawson and Creekview were deadlocked at 23 points each at the half, with the Lady Tigers scoring 14 of those points in the second quarter. 

Leading the offense was Abby Samples-Slaton, who found her shooting touch in the second quarter. She would eventually finish with 13 points to lead Dawson.

As the game progressed into the third quarter, the Lady Tigers improved their movement in the paint and had key contributions from Heather Burt and Eva Bishop.

Down by just a point heading into the fourth quarter, Dawson kept Creekview at bay for a few minutes before the visitors began to find consistency. 

Neither team could get a shot to go down in the final frame until inside of three minutes remaining, when Creekview made the clutch shots they needed to.

While Morgan Chester helped keep Dawson in the game with her rebounds, the hosts would fall just short in the end. 

“They played hard enough to win the game [but] we just have to execute better at the end,” Anglin said. “This team is resilient [and] will show up Monday ready to get back to work.”

The boys team stepped onto the court at the Ford Phillips Center in a much different place than last season after the graduation of several seniors.

But head coach Todd Cottrell and the Tigers looked to establish their fundamental gameplan against River Ridge.

Though the first quarter saw a solid defensive display by Dawson — limiting the Knights to 11 points — the Tigers spent the remainder of the game catching up to the talented 6A side.

“[While] our defense was outstanding early, we simply could not convert, which obviously led to some discouragement,” Cottrell said. “We all wanted to perform better tonight [but] we are all disappointed that we didn’t.”

For much of the first half, Dawson had scoring opportunities but had trouble making those chances count, scoring just 10 points by halftime. 

The more experienced players such as Trey Harvey and Ethan Parker played up to speed and found space for others such as Caden Reed, but those missed opportunities would help the Knight increase their lead. 

Dawson began the third quarter much stronger, scoring as many points in that quarter as they had in the first two combined.

But the constant pressure that River Ridge placed on the hosts on both ends of the court proved to be insurmountable. 

Cottrell believed that the team had to take the lessons from that experience as building blocks for improvement moving forward.

“I believe in this team,” Cottrell said. “Hopefully we will learn to manage in-game adversity better and learn to trust our defense more. We need to be a little more selective on the shots we take and rebound better when we miss.”

Both Dawson teams travel to play Flowery Branch on Tuesday, Nov. 15, before returning home to play in the Roger Slaton Memorial tournament. The boys team will play Saturday, Nov. 19, against Fideles Christian at 1 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 21, against Model at 5:30 p.m. The girls team plays Monday Nov. 21 at 4 p.m. against Whitefield Academy.