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BASKETBALL: Tigers back in win column after complete performance against Pickens
Caden Reed takes a three-point shot during the game against Pickens on Thursday Jan. 26. He led the Tigers with 21 points in that game. - photo by Rio White

Over the past three games, Dawson County’s varsity boys basketball team had some of their best opening halves of the season.

Against West Hall, they got out in front early on and maintained a 30-20 halftime lead. Last Tuesday night against Gilmer, the Tigers looked even better offensively, rallying from an early deficit to lead 44-34 at halftime.

But the third quarter was Dawson’s kryptonite in those two games, losing their lead quickly on the way to eventual close losses.(Story continues below)

But on the third try, the Tigers played one of their most well-rounded games of the season at Pickens on Thursday, Jan. 26, beating the Dragons 59-54 and ending an eight-game losing streak. 

For head coach Todd Cottrell, the team earned a well-deserved win for capitalizing on all the potential they had shown during their previous losses. 

“That was probably one of our more complete games…we didn’t have that long period of time where we didn’t play well,” Cottrell said. “I’m really proud of this group, this is a resilient group. I think it's starting to come together all at the right time.”

Trey Harvey moves past a Pickens defender. He had 16 points and 5 rebounds against the Dragons. - photo by Rio White

Despite facing a pesky Pickens side that did not allow the scoring gap to widen during the game, the Tigers finished what they started — another high-energy first quarter.

With Trey Harvey driving through the Dragons defense to create space and pick up points in the paint, the Tigers were set up to score early and often, taking an 18-14 lead after the opening quarter.

After a tense second quarter resulted in a 30-27 Dawson lead at halftime, the Tigers held firm in the third quarter.

In contrast to the previous games where rushed possessions would lead to missed shots, the Tigers showed increased patience against Pickens, choosing shots wisely and giving themselves time to breathe on the defensive end. 

Leading 47-38 going into the final quarter, Dawson led by as many as 13 points before a final push by the Dragons tightened the score to 52-48.

But this time, the Tigers played the final few minutes with a steely determination, picking up the last few crucial free throws to close out the game. 

Previously against Gilmer, the Tigers had all the momentum halfway through the game but a cold spell in the third quarter — yielding just six points — saw the 10-point halftime lead turn into a 10-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. 

Dawson’s eventual 83-70 loss to Gilmer marked the third time in four games that the Tigers showed the skill level to compete in their region but fell just short.

Ethan Parker drives toward the basket against Gilmer. - photo by Rio White

Trey Harvey and Caden Reed fueled Dawson’s first-half success and helped the team get back to its scoring ways in the fourth quarter. The two players combined for 48 of the team’s total points, with Harvey scoring 26 and Reed scoring 22.

Both players got out to quick starts against Gilmer, helping the Tigers create efficient possessions with their quick passing and positioning themselves well to make jump shots.

With the help of Ethan Parker and Joshua Priest, Dawson spent much of the first half in possession of the ball and gave themselves the second-chance opportunities needed to build their lead. 

By the time halftime rolled around, the shooting consistency of Harvey and Reed had the Tigers in a positive position. 

But Gilmer stuck around and used their size to gradually seize the lead and take advantage of Dawson’s cold spell. 

Recognized before the game was former Tigers basketball player Rodney Robinson, who was named as honorary captain for the night. 

The Tigers now sit at an 8-14 overall record and a 2-7 mark in Region 7-3A. Next up, Dawson will host Lumpkin on Friday, Feb. 3.