Chants of "Sweet 16" rocked Ford E. Phillips Gymnasium on Friday night. The Dawson County Tigers punched their ticket to the next round of the state basketball playoffs with a 55-43 win over Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.
Dawson County controlled the tempo in the first quarter and took a 6-4 lead with 3:16 remaining in the quarter on a made shot by Lucas Pain. The Tigers never surrendered that lead.
Pain finished with eight points in the contest.
Head Coach Thad Burgess' team held a 9-4 first quarter advantage as the buzzer sounded.
Cameron Millholland had a solid first half offensively. He scored eight points before picking up his second foul.
Tiger senior Sam Muenchen was dominate on the boards pulling down several key rebounds in the first half as Dawson County roared to a slim 26-16 lead at halftime.
Muenchen finished with 13 rebounds and five points for the contest.
Coach Wayne Weaver's Warriors fought back in the third quarter. LFO cut the lead to 28-27 with 2:37 left before Burgess called a timeout.
Dawson County went on to close out the third quarter on a 7-1 run and with a 35-28 lead.
The Tigers converted on 18-of-24 free throws in the final quarter to come away with the win. The only field goal in the fourth quarter for Dawson County was by Millholland.
Zach Powers led LFO in scoring with 14 points.
Two Dawson County players finished in double digits. Levi Whitmire scored 17 points, going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe. Whitmire also hit two, 3-point shots. Millholland added 14 points in the contest. He connected on four, three-pointers.
"Lakeview put up a good fight," Burgess said. "But you have to hand it to our guys. We held up when things got close in the third quarter. Remember, none of these guys have played in the playoffs before."
Burgess added: "I'm so proud of this team. The guys have bonded well together and it shows on the floor. This is an amazing group."
Lakeview finished the season with a 16-11 record.
Dawson County is currently 22-7.
Finishing out the scoring for Dawson County were: Jonathan Sanderson-four, Kolton Brumbelow, Jackson Morgan, Brandon Abbott, with two points each and Jackson Putnam with one point.
Up next for the Tigers will be Cedar Grove High School (18-6). Cedar Grove defeated Oconee County, 61-37, on Saturday.
The game was played Feb. 25 at Cedar Grove. Scores were unavailable as of press time.
"Cedar Grove uses pressure all over the court," Burgess said. "We have to handle that pressure to win."
The winner of the game will play the winner of Morgan County and East Hall on Thursday night at the sight of the highest seed. If Morgan County wins, the game will be played in Madison. If East Hall wins, it will be a home game for the Tigers.