In what could arguably be considered a "state final" caliber game, the Dawson County High School Lady Tigers' basketball team ended its season with a heart breaking 70-64 loss at Laney High School in Augusta on Feb. 24.
Dawson County was well represented by fans in a packed house at Laney.
The Lady Tigers fans traveled more than three hours to support their team in the mid-week Elite Eight game.
The game flowed back and forth in the first quarter with both teams leading at some point.
The Lady Tigers jumped out to an 8-2 advantage early on five points by point guard Haley Burgess.
Laney surged right back with an 8-0 run to take the lead briefly at 10-8.
Dawson County then caught fire again to close out the quarter with points by Ashley Parker, Peyton Porter, Sheyenne Seabolt and Jordan Moore to hold an 18-14 advantage.
The second quarter was more of the same.
Dawson County scored 10 of the last 12 points to hold a 33-26 lead at halftime.
Karlie Bearden's six points and Burgess' five points in the quarter led the offense.
The momentum started to shift in the third quarter.
With nine seconds left in the third, and the game tied at 43-43, Auloriona Bonner heaved a long three-pointer on an inbounds play that counted to give Laney a 46-43 lead.
The Wildcat faithful erupted as the shot fell. Bonner scored 11 of her game-high 23 points in the third quarter.
Dawson County stormed back in the final quarter.
Bearden hit a short jumper with 5:03 left to give the Lady Tigers the lead back at 50-48.
The lead was short-lived with Laney scoring a traditional three-point play by Desha Benjamin to give the Wildcats a 53-50 advantage.
Benjamin recorded 23 points in the game.
Seabolt put the Lady Tigers up 54-53 with 3:35 left in the game. The lead was Dawson's last of the game.
Bearden and Seabolt tried to carry the team in the fourth quarter. Bearden had 7 of her 14 total points, while Seabolt scored 11 of her 22 points in the final eight minutes of the game.
Laney was 13-for-17 in the final quarter from the free throw line.
The Wildcats were 20-for-30 for the contest from the charity stripe.
"It was as good of a high school girl's game as you will ever see," said Lady Tigers' Head Coach Steve Sweat. "Both teams had the lead on many different occasions throughout the game."
There were nine different lead changes in the ball game.
"We had an unbelievable season, setting many school records along the way. This group of girls made their mark in the history books of Dawson County basketball. It was a great season that ended with a tough loss," Sweat said.
The Lady Tigers set many school records, which includes most wins (29), longest winning streak (29 games) and fewest losses (one). The team has three 1,000-point scorers in Bearden, Seabolt and Parker. The team also won its first region championship since 1991.
Scoring for Dawson County were Seabolt with 22 points, Bearden added 14 points and Burgess with 10 points. Moore scored nine points. Parker scored six points, Porter added two points and Katelynn Simpson contributed with one point.
Leading rebounders were Seabolt and Parker with 11 apiece and Bearden with nine boards.
Laney (28-3) will play in the state championship game on Saturday against Beach High School from Savannah.
Beach (26-5) defeated East Hall, 47-38, in the state semi-finals.
Playing their last game for Dawson County were seniors Seabolt, Parker, Moore, and Mikaela Egan.
Dawson County finished the season with a 29-1 record.