Basketball coaches use pre-region games to get their troops ready for the grueling schedule that starts in January and early February. They want to figure out player rotations, team chemistry and how they react against good teams.
Coach Thad Burgess and his Tigers team traveled to Hiawassee to play in the prestigious Battle of the States Tournament hosted by Towns County last week.
Dawson County played some tough competition and came away with a 2-1 record and a third place finish.
The first game for the Tigers was against Murphy, N.C. The Tigers pulled away in the second half to come away with a 56-34 victory.
Dawson used its strong 3-2 zone defense to limit Murphy to just 14 second half points.
The Tigers had three players score in double figures. Tyler Dominy led the way with 14 points. Camron Chester and Bruce Clark added 13 and 12 points respectively in the win.
Murphy was led by Seth Curtis with 13 points and Demarcus Hobson with 10 points.
Tigers scorers: Dominy - 14 points; Chester - 13 points; Clark - 12 points; Will Anglin - 6 points; Jonathan Sanderson - 4 points; Gunnar Armstrong - 4 points; Mitchell Putnam - 2 points; and Lucas Pain - 1 point.
In the semi-finals Dawson fell to a really good team from Gadsden, Ala. in Southside High School.
Dawson fought back from an 11-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter. The Tigers missed a three-pointer to tie the game with 8 seconds to go. Dawson County had to intentionally foul to stop the clock and lost, 53-48, in the close game.
The loss propelled Dawson into the consolation game Dec. 29.
Dominy was the only Tigers to score in double figures. He chipped in 22 points.
Tigers scoring: Dominy - 22 points; Will Anglin - 9 points; Lucas Pain - 8 points; Gunnar Armstrong - 3 points; Bruce Clark - 4 points and Jonathan Sanderson - 2 points.
Polk County, Tenn. was Dawson's next opponent. The game meant either a third or fourth place finish in the tournament.
The Tigers defense didn't allow Polk to score anything but single digits in three of four quarters to come away with a 43-31 victory.
The Tigers limited Polk to only 13-points in the first half to build a comfortable 25-13 lead.
Polk pulled to within 7-points at the end of three quarters and cut Dawson's lead to 30-23.
A strong fourth quarter put the game away as Dawson outscored Polk, 13-8, to come away with the 12-point win.
Gunnar Armstrong led all Tigers scorers with 11 points.
Tigers scorers: Armstrong - 11 points; Will Anglin - 8 points; Tyler Dominy - 8 points; Bruce Clark - 7 points and Lucas Pain - 5 points.
Polk County was led by Alex Akins with 18 points.
"This was a good tournament for us to prepare for our region schedule coming up," Burgess said. "After not playing good on Tuesday in the win, we came back the last two days and increased our intensity and played much better."
Burgess said he was pleased with the effort he saw from his team.
"I was pleased in our loss by the effort we showed the last quarter when we fell down by 11 points against a physical and hot-shooting Southside team, and fought back to have a chance to tie the game up on our last possession. I was disappointed this was the only game we have been out rebounded, as we have been averaging a two-to-one margin difference in rebounding this year," he said.
Burgess said defense was key in the team's final game.
"In the third place game, we were outstanding defensively the last quarter against Polk and shut down their 6'8" post and held him to only 2 points in the second half. I thought this was a key game as we have eight days off as we prepare to begin region play," he said.
The Tigers are currently 12-2 overall this season.
Friday the Tigers will host Rabun County. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. It will be the first Region 8A-AA game for Dawson County. The Wildcats are currently 11-2 on the season.
On Jan. 7 the team will travel to Lumpkin County for a rematch with the Indians.
Earlier this season Dawson defeated Lumpkin, 57-43.