The Dawson County varsity boy’s basketball team is on its way to the state tournament, again. It will be the fourth consecutive year for Head Coach Thad Burgess to take a team to state.
The Tigers qualified with a 35-17 win over East Jackson last Saturday night at the Ford E. Phillips Gymnasium in the quarterfinals of the Region 8-AA Tournament.
Dawson’s fourth appearance in the state tournament sets a school record that overrides the record set last season when the team qualified for a third straight time.
The Tigers avenged a December loss to Head Coach Brian Turner’s East Jackson team.
The Eagles destroyed Dawson 56-34 in Commerce on Dec. 18. Dawson was able to turn around that 22-point deficit and get into the state tournament.
“It was an amazing game,” said Burgess. “I have never had a group of guys that give the type of effort rebounding and playing defense like our team did tonight.”
Dawson pulled down 39 rebounds to the Eagles 17.
Tiger Jacob Evans was dominant on the boards for Dawson. He pulled down 16 rebounds in the win.
The Tiger defense was stifling all evening. Dawson allowed East Jackson only one point in the first quarter and only two points in the second quarter, to take a 15-3 halftime lead.
It wasn’t much better for the Eagles on offense in the second half.
East Jackson managed only 10-points in the third quarter and four points in the final period of play.
East Jackson finished its season with a 10-15 record.
“We were totally focused and determined. Our guys had four great days of practice in preparation for Saturday’s game. I don’t believe we had a turnover against East Jackson’s press and we gave them some different looks that they have not seen,” said Burgess.
Those “different looks” on defense seemed to frustrate the Eagles. They had a difficult time getting shots off and when they did get shots, Dawson dominated the boards.
“Shutting them down early in the game seemed to really get to them. Our defense in the second half may have been even better than the first half. We knew that they would come out expecting to make a challenge and be more aggressive,” said Burgess.
Tiger point guard Stephen Scaife had a game-high 14 points. Scaife seemed to control the game from his point guard position. He was under control and did a wonderful job of running the offense for Dawson County.
Jacob Evans and Tyler Dominy both chipped in six points for the Tigers. Stephen Johnson contributed four points, while Levi Wilson had three points and Logan Lewis added two points in the win.
Cody Gibbs led East Jackson with only seven points.
Burgess has led the Tigers to a 76 and 36 record over the last four years. His team will enter the state tournament for the fourth time against a school from the Columbus-LaGrange area. Dawson’s opponent will be determined over the next couple of days.
The Tigers traveled to East Jackson High School for the Region 8-AA semi-finals Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, Dawson squared off against Riverside Military Academy. Scores weren’t available at press time.
The winner/loser of that game will play the winner/loser of the Jefferson and Rabun County game. This will decide the seeding going into the state tournament.
“Our guys take great pride in getting back to the state playoffs and reaching the 20-win level,” said Burgess. “This makes four straight years playing in the state tournament, surpassing last year’s first-ever three straight years in the history of the school.”
The winners of Monday’s region semis will host the first round of the state tournament.
State tournament play will begin Friday, Feb. 26.