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Boys bow out
Beat Buford to make it to quarterfinals
Bball pic1
Jonathan Sanderson drives baseline against Jordans Tony Palmer. The Tigers fell short in their bid for a Final Four appearance with a 48-47 loss Friday in Dalton. - photo by Ryan Coker Dawson Community News

The 2011-12 basketball season came down to a shot made with 0.4 seconds left.

Jordan senior guard Jeff Blanton drove down the left baseline to hit a runner that gave the Red Jackets a come from behind 48-47 win that ended Dawson County's miracle season.

A last ditch effort by the Tigers hit the overhanging scoreboard and sent Jordan into the state AA semi-finals in Macon this week.

"I thought it was an unbelievable effort," said Dawson County coach Thad Burgess. "We were 4 seconds from going to Macon."

When the Dawson County (25-7) players walked out of the locker room, a multitude of fans cheered the team that had stunned team after team on the way to a state quarterfinals appearance.

Juniors Tyler Dominy and Will Anglin led Dawson County with 12 points each, and the Tigers imposed their will once again on a team that spent its season running and scoring in bunches.

The game was close throughout as neither team could get a comfortable lead.

Jordan held a slim 13-10 advantage after one quarter.

The second quarter was a three-point barrage.

Dawson connected on four 3-pointers by Dominy, Anglin, and two long shots by Gunnar Armstrong. The Red Jackets answered with three 3-pointers of their own, two by guard Tony Palmer and one by Blanton.

However, Dawson went into halftime with a 28-26 lead.

Dominy rocked the crowd in the third quarter with a baseline dunk that put Dawson up by 4 points at 30-26.

Both teams traded leads in the quarter with Jordan clinging to a 39-37 advantage after 24 minutes of play.

Jordan tried the same tactic as Buford to begin the fourth.

The Red Jackets held the basketball at half court till the 4:37 mark before they began to play.

Once again, the move helped the Tigers to get some much needed rest.

Dawson County took its last lead on a free throw by Jonathan Sanderson at the 1:58 mark, making the score 45-44.

Armstrong (8 points) extended the lead to three on a pair of free throws with 37 seconds remaining.

Jordan cut the lead to one point on a basket by Brandon Simmons with 19 seconds to go.

Armstrong was fouled with 18.5 seconds remaining and got a 1-and-1 free throw. The junior guard missed the front end. Dominy rebounded the miss but the ball went out of bounds to set up Jordan's last second heroics.

Then Jordan (27-3) did what Burgess predicted they would try to do.

"You knew they were going to go hard to the basket," Burgess said. "We can't match up with the quickness they have.

"There's nobody in that room that could have done more," Burgess said. "I can't think of anything more or less that we could have done.

"I've never experienced what these kids were able to do," Burgess said. "It was a great run."

Palmer led the Red Jackets with 14 points.

Dawson County out rebounded Jordan 16-10 in the half, but lost the turnover battle 6-4.

Jordan will play Laney at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Macon Centreplex in the state semifinals.

The season had already been one of the best on record for the Dawson County program.

The Tigers upset the No. 1 seeds from the north subregion: East Hall and south subregion: Jefferson en route to their first region championship since 1969.

Dawson County then held off Calhoun in the opening round of the state tournament before shutting down No. 8 Buford, last season's Class AA state tournament runners-up, in front of a crowd of more than 1,600 in Dawsonville.

"What a run," Burgess said. "To see the full arena at Dalton that was almost 100 percent Dawson County, I would guess close to 2,000, if the place will hold 2,500 like they said, was incredible."

Dawson County fans filled up both sides, all the seats behind one of the baskets, and a whole section on one end of the floor, in the Northwest Georgia Trade Center.

"Our guys did all they could do. They came out and fought for four, full quarters and came up less than a second away from making the trip to Macon. How they were able to pull the emotional and draining win over Buford with only one day rest, was more than I could [have] ever hoped for," Burgess said.

"Jordan is a very good team, as indicated by being the No. 1 ranked team in the state for most of the year and coming in at 26-3. We were able to control tempo and have the same script as the last several games had gone, but just came up a play short at the end," he added.

Burgess said: "The Buford win was something that so many small town communities like Dawson County have hoped for, for so many years. It was so meaningful to have so many calls from people throughout North Georgia showing how much it meant for them too."

The Tigers head coach said his assistant also deserves a great deal of credit.

"Coach Wes Greer has meant a great deal to me and our team as well and his loyalty and efforts into the program.

"All the boys have bought into what we are trying to do with our basketball program. All 10 of these boys have grown up in the Dawson County School System and are a very close knit group. I know Grant Shope, our only senior, will be very successful and make a big difference in whatever he does."

According to Burgess, next year will be something to look forward to.

"Expectations will be high next year for this group, but the road will get even tougher moving up a classification with Buford, North Hall, East Hall, West Hall, White County, Banks and Fannin," he said.

Tigers scorers: Dominy-12 points, Clark-10 points, Anglin-12 points, Armstrong - 8 points and Sanderson - 5 points.

Members of this year's team were: Sanderson, Anglin, Clark, Lucas Pain, Dominy, Shope, Mitchell Putnam, Armstrong, Jackson Putnam and Camron Chester.

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DCN regional staff contributed to the story.