The holiday season typically signals the halfway mark of most high school basketball schedules, with the Dawson County varsity girls team posting a 9-4 record so far.
For first-year head coach Will Anglin, he has been able to witness a roster that has shown strength through its depth — with the team looking stronger by the week.
The team’s journey this season truly began at the tail end of last season, when the Lady Tigers finished with three straight losses to mark a disappointing end to an otherwise good season.
After beating rival North Hall early in the Region 7-3A tournament, Dawson’s relative youth began to show.
While the loss to eventual state champions Lumpkin County in the next tournament game could be expected, the Lady Tigers got stuck in a rut and lost winnable matchups against White County in the third-place game and Westminster in the state playoff game.
With the departure of just one player from last season’s roster, Dawson has become more skilled and mature over the past year — looking to avoid the consistency issues from last season.
During last month’s Winter Media Day, senior Kirklyn Porter talked about another important element to the team’s growth — cohesion.
“We are now working toward a common goal and we know each other very well,” Porter said. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
This year, even with early-season injuries taking out as many as three players at the same time, the entire squad has brought significant contributions.
From the timely shooting of Maddie Siuta and Emma Grace McCarron to the interior strength of Eva Bishop and Jaci Wilson, there has hardly been a player who has not played a pivotal role this season.
In fact, there have been multiple games where all active players on the roster scored.
While last season’s team showed glimpses of the team’s depth, this edition of the Lady Tigers has been well-rounded — giving ample support to offensive leaders Porter, Abby Samples-Slaton and Morgan Chester.
Defensively, the team has placed emphasis on putting equal effort in the backcourt and the front. Speedy players like Kindra Coker and Anna Ayers have been as important to the defensive effort as players with more length.
Now that the team has shown its versatility, the next challenge will be to make it to the state tournament — a tall task considering four other teams in Region 7 are ranked in the top 10 of Class 3A, according to MaxPreps.
But Anglin believes that the team’s diligence and senior leadership will help them maximize their potential this season.
“Each and every player when [they] come into practice, it should be noticeable if someone is not working hard,” Anglin said. “I think that is absolutely a reflection of how the [seniors] come into practice.”