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Lady Tigers celebrate homecoming with win over Lady Rebels
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The Dawson County Lady Tigers move the ball down the court against the Fannin County Lady Rebels Jan. 11. - photo by Bob Christian

The Lady Tigers hosted Fannin County High School in a critical regional match-up for their first home game of 2019 on Jan. 11.

Head Coach Steve Sweat understood the importance of the game to the team’s standing in the region and emphasized the physical nature of 7AAA basketball.

“Should be a pretty physical game. That’s how they play, and we do too,” Sweat said. “Hopefully, we can play better defense and make more shots.”

From the opening tipoff to the final buzzer, Dawson County out-paced, out-shot and out-scored the Lady Rebels for a final score of 58-32.

With junior Sophia D’Oliveira’s aggressive inside game leading the way, the Lady Tigers opened an early lead over Fannin County and never looked back, finishing the first period up by 16 points as the score stood at 20-4.

The Fannin County offense came to life in the second quarter as they tried to narrow the gap by scoring 13 points, but the Lady Tigers matched them point-for-point to take the lead into halftime at 33-17.

At halftime the Dawson County Tigers presented junior Jasper Gibson with a commemorative basketball in honor of his joining the 1,000 point club earlier in the season.

“It's really exciting, something you dream about,” Gibson said. “It's nice to see it all happening.”

Sophomore Maddie Anglin started the third quarter with a hot hand from the 3-point line as she dropped three shots from beyond the arc to spark an offensive explosion from Dawson County. The team effectively put the game away by the end of the third, doubling up the Lady Rebels 25-11 over the period to enter the final stanza with a comfortable 30-point lead at 58-28.

Dawson County turned their focus to defense for the final eight minutes of the contest as they denied passing and shooting lanes for Fannin County while playing keep-away on offense. The strategy proved successful as they held the Lady Rebels to a meager 4 points in the quarter to finish out the game with a final score of 58-32.

Anglin and D’Oliveira led the team in scoring as both posted double digits with 14 points each.

A Jan. 8 game against the East Hall Lady Vikings marked the final stop on a seven-game road trip that has seen its share of ups and downs for the Lady Tigers.

Senior Kaylee Sticker led Dawson County with 17 points while going 5-of-7 from the free-throw line. Mariah Benson, sophomore, scored 14 points from her relief position and Anglin dropped 10 points on the Vikings.

The Lady Tigers found most of their points in the first period with an aggressive inside game led by Anglin’s 8 first-period points. The Vikings, on the other hand, found great success from the perimeter and the team’s combined for 41 points in the first eight minutes with East Hall taking a one point lead into the second by a score of 21-20.

“It was two teams getting after each other from the very start,” Sweat said.

Benson took over the inside work for Dawson County during the second quarter, and Sticker continued to find success under the net while the Lady Tigers defense tightened up to deny the outside shots for East Hall giving Dawson a 13-6 advantage in the period and a 33-27 lead at halftime.

Both teams stuck to their game plans in the third period and the two squads slogged it out over the next eight minutes with Dawson County continuing to pressure the net and Hall County finding limited success from the perimeter and the free-throw line. Neither team could gain the upper hand and the game moved into the fourth period with the Lady Tigers holding a slim 6-point lead by a score of 44-38.

Junior Marlie Townley jumped into action for Dawson County in the final set as she won the rebound battles at both ends of the court and added 6 points from the field. Sticker, Anglin and freshman Ella Siuta all added points from the foul line.

Bella Henson slipped into the game in the final minutes to drop a 3-point shot, her only points of the contest, that would prove to be the fatal blow as the Lady Tigers held off the Lady Vikings by a final score of 62-53.

Maggie Griffin and Ivey Shadburn scored 14 points apiece to lead East Hall.

Dawson County (13-6, 5-2) maintain their grip on second-place in region 7AAA with the wins and they battled with the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans on Jan. 15 for their shot at the first-place slot. Results were unavailable as of press time.