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BASKETBALL: Tigers dominate second half at Lumpkin County for first region win of season
Jake Craft dribbles down the court at Lumpkin County High School in the TIgers’ 80-34 victory on Fri., Dec. 11. - photo by Jacob Smith

When Joakeim Celestin poked the ball away from the Lumpkin County offense with six minutes left in the third quarter, the Dawson County Tigers had already started the quarter on a 6-0 run. 

Celestin looked up and saw big man Max Tierny running with him down the court. He threw Tierny the ball, who promptly slammed the basketball into the goal on a breakaway dunk, giving the Tigers their first 20-point lead of the night.

Tierny’s dunk propelled the Tigers into a second half where they outscored the Lumpkin County Indians 42-7 to secure the 80-38 victory. 

Joakeim Celestin shoots his free throws during the 80-34 victory at Lumpkin County High School on Fri., Dec. 11. - photo by Jacob Smith

“I thought we played really good basketball,” Tigers head coach Todd Cottrell said after the game. “Our boys are so coachable and have tremendous hearts.” 

No individual player surpassed 20 points scored during the game, but the Tigers had an eye-popping four players who scored double-digit points. Jake Craft led the offense with 18 points scored. In only his second game of the season, Tyler Lane scored all 14 of his points in the paint. Tierny scored a season-high 13 points and Ty Whitmire caught fire from behind the three-point arc, scoring 10 points. 

After a heartbreaking one-point loss against White County to open their region schedule, the dominating win on Friday reminded the Tigers that they were the #9 ranked preseason team by GHSA at the start of the season. 

“We keep getting better and better,” Cottrell said. I think we’ve got a chance to make some noise.” 

The Lady Tigers did not play their game against Lumpkin County on Friday due to multiple players being exposed to COVID-19. There is no word yet on whether the game will be rescheduled. 

The Tigers resume region play this Friday before taking the winter break off with a few exhibition matchups in between. On Tues, Dec. 15, Rabun County travels to Ford Phillps Arena to battle Dawson County. The region match against Gilmer County at Dawson County High School is Friday, Dec. 18. 

“We just need to keep making the easy plays,” Cottrell said. “Set good screens. It’s a work in progress but I’m pleased to know the team is starting to understand what we are looking for from them now.”

Jake Craft shoots a fadeaway jumper during the 80-34 victory at Lumpkin County High School on Fri., Dec. 11. - photo by Jacob Smith