Four members of the Dawson County varsity girls basketball team recently earned spots on the Region 7-3A All-Region squad, following their efforts to help the Lady Tigers navigate a realigned — and more challenging — region.
Since the All-Region announcements were made at the end of the regular season, the four Lady Tigers chosen — Morgan Chester, Abby Samples-Slaton, Kirklyn Porter and Eva Bishop — have further cemented their places among the region’s best players by guiding Dawson to a third-place region finish and two state playoff wins as of this writing.
Chester, a junior, leads the group as a Second Team All-Region selection, proving over the course of the season to be one of the most versatile players in the region.
After an early-season injury, Chester made an immediate impact upon her return by becoming the team’s heartbeat in the interior. She would eventually average 8.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Her ability to constantly drive inside and score in the paint gave the Lady Tigers the ability to create offensive pressure efficiently.
While her scoring contributions helped add fuel to the team’s output, her rebounding was her signature strength — reaching 500 career rebounds this year. Chester and Bishop would create a one-two punch on the boards that allowed Dawson to regularly have second and third chances to score.
Her intensity was also reflected on defense, where her sense of positioning and ability to cause turnovers helped stifle opposing defenses — particularly in critical wins over Pickens and White County.
Samples-Slaton and Porter earned Third Team spots after being key offensive assets all season.
With the team’s individual improvements across the board from the previous season, Samples-Slaton became the team’s leading scorer in her junior season — averaging 10.7 points per game.
As the season went along, it became clear that she not only possessed a natural scoring touch from both three-point and mid-range, she also held a ability to deliver in crucial moments of a game.
From an early-season dagger against Flowery Branch to her quartet of three-point shots against Pickens to help Dawson clinch a state playoff spot, Samples-Slaton showed no fear of the moment.
But as the games became more consequential, she became even stronger.
In the region tournament third-place game against White County, she hit the game-winning shot with under 30 seconds left. In the first round of the state playoffs against Hart County, she hit the go-ahead shot with less than 20 seconds remaining.
Samples-Slaton would later score 15 points in the Sweet 16 win over Adairsville to help lead the Lady Tigers to a state quarterfinal appearance.
Porter, a Third Team selection, played a slightly different role this season than in years past, becoming a facilitator for the much-improved shooting prowess of Chester, Samples-Slaton and several others.
While the senior may not have scored as much this season as her junior campaign, Porter’s contributions to this season’s deep playoff run have been significant.
Her ability to read defenses, make timely passes, set up screens and be an all-around leader are all traits that have helped the team thrive late in the season.
That final factor — her leadership skills — helped the team face moments of pressure with fearlessness.
Bishop earned an All-Region Honorable Mention after proving to be a rising star with a plenty of energy on the court.
Her strength and fierce playing style helped shape her into an important asset to the team — as she often raked in double-digit rebound numbers.
Later in the season, she also became another big scoring option, making improvements with her finishing in the paint. Bishop averaged around seven points and seven rebounds per game.
While Porter is wrapping up her Lady Tigers career, the other three will look to make further improvements next season.