After a shaky first half in the first round of the GHSA 3-A state tournament, the Dawson County Tigers basketball team refused to let their season come to an end and dominated North Murray High School in the game’s second half for a 56-35 victory.
Max Tierney was exceptional for the Tigers during the game. He scored 19 points and rebounded the basketball 14 times, both. Tyler Lane helped on the defensive side with 12 rebounds of his own.
“[Tierney] and [Lane] both have had really good months of basketball,” Tigers head coach Todd Cottrell said after the game. “When they play like they did tonight, we’re pretty good.”
The Tigers struggled early to score the ball. They were losing 11-9 at the end of the first quarter and then did not score a single point for the first 3:30 of the second quarter.
When North Murray led 25-22 at halftime, the Tigers must have remembered their 73-69 first-round loss last year against Cedar Grove High School because they refused to repeat those memories in Tuesday’s game.
Cottrell said that his halftime message wasn’t anything special, but that instead the team responded to adversity. After a first half where Jake Craft, the region’s leading scorer, scored only two points, a successful three-point shot by craft during the second half triggered an 8-0 run by the Tigers to take the lead.
“It’s always good to see them go in,” Cottrell said. “[Jake] is one of the best shooters in the state and we’re very confident when he takes shots. I think seeing it go in not only helped Jake, but the whole team as well.”
Craft ended the game with 14 points and five rebounds. Jaden Gibson also scored in double-digit figures with 11 points and led the team with five assists.
The entire Tigers defense dominated in the second half. The team only allowed North Murray to score 10 points in the entire second half. The Tigers stole the ball seven times on defense, with Gibson stealing the ball three times.
“I’m just really proud of them,” Cottrell said. “They’re a well-coached team and executed their game plan. They gave us a lot of trouble early. I think we were a little excited early and did some uncharacteristic things, but we played a really good second half.”
Dawson County moves onto the Sweet 16 of the state tournament on Friday, Feb. 26. The Tigers will play the winner of Salem High School and Oconee County High School.