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BASKETBALL: Boys hoops win three straight, Chester returns for Lady Tigers
Joshua Priest takes a three-point shot during the game against Pickens on Tuesday, Dec. 13. He would score 18 points in Dawson’s 77-61 win. - photo by Rio White

High-powered offense and the return of a key player highlighted an eventful week of action for the Dawson County varsity basketball teams, who hosted Pickens on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and East Jackson on Friday, Dec. 16, before playing Saturday morning at the War Lodge Invitational hosted by Sequoyah High School. 

Contributions beyond the arc proved to be most impactful for the boys team, who won all three games — securing their first region win of the season in a 77-61 victory over the Dragons, holding on to win 76-74 over East Jackson and defeating Camp Jewell House Academy 68-52.

The Lady Tigers saw the return of impact player Morgan Chester, whose rebounding prowess and consistency in the paint helped fuel the team’s efforts in a 62-46 loss to the undefeated Dragonettes, a 73-34 win over East Jackson and a 51-38 loss to North Paulding.

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Against Pickens, the boys were led by Joshua Priest, who caught fire from three-point range and sank six of those shots to help Dawson build their lead throughout the game. 

His 18 points would be accompanied by the same total from Caden Reed, while Trey Harvey led all scorers with 23 points. 

“Everybody took turns getting hot, which is what a good team is supposed to do. I don’t think we took many bad shots,” head coach Todd Cottrell said. “I was more proud of our defense. We were really engaged defensively and got some fast break opportunities.”

It was Harvey who set the tone for the Tigers early in the game, scoring 14 first-half points and establishing himself on the defensive end against a Dragons team that played well in the first half.

Leading 17-16 after the first quarter, the Tigers put together an efficient second quarter and expanded their lead to 36-25 at halftime. 

In addition to the three leading scorers, a couple of timely shots by Ethan Parker helped Dawson get to that halftime margin.

Harvey, Priest and Reed would all score early and often in the second half, with the turning point of the game coming early in the fourth quarter.

After leading 57-40 after the third quarter, a flurry of made shots by Dawson put them ahead by as many as 28 points just halfway into the final quarter. 

A late charge by Pickens would reduce the arrears and result in the final 16-point margin of victory for the Tigers.

For the Lady Tigers, the return of Chester helped them take on a difficult task in Pickens. She would finish the game with 12 points while Abby Samples-Slaton would lead the team with 14.

Chester and sophomore Eva Bishop helped Dawson keep up early on against the Dragonettes, who came into the game ranked No. 6 in Class 3A. 

After a promising 13-11 first-quarter lead, the Lady Tigers had difficulty scoring and the visitors increased their shooting consistency to take a 30-21 lead at halftime. 

From there, the Dragonettes would expand their lead, going ahead by as many as 22 points before the Lady Tigers reduced it to a 10-point deficit during the fourth quarter.

Despite the late effort from Dawson, the visitors would finish the game off to win by 16 points.

“I thought [Pickens] outplayed us, which is frustrating at home,” head coach Will Anglin said. “We knew going into it that they are relentless on the offensive glass…and you can’t take any possessions off. Our region is brutal but we are as good as anybody in our region when we play. We’ve got to play harder.”

Against East Jackson, Harvey and Reed both scored 22 points to help the boys team lead by as many as 14 points before the game tightened up in the fourth quarter. Priest contributed 14 points.

The girls team would get back in the win column against East Jackson, with Chester leading the way early with a 12-point first half. 

She would finish with 14 points while Samples-Slaton again led the team with 15 points. Bishop contributed 10 points. 

At the War Lodge invitational, Harvey continued his string of double-doubles with 26 points and 16 rebounds while Priest scored 15 points. Parker again proved to be a key asset in setting up scoring chances, contributing 8 assists.

The three wins put the boys team at a 6-5 record so far, already matching their win total from last season. The Lady Tigers now stand at a 6-4 record. 

Both teams hosted Flowery Branch on Monday, Dec. 19, and will play in a post-Christmas tournament next week, hosted by Christian Heritage High School in Dalton. The first games for Dawson will be on Wednesday, Dec. 28.