In the final home game of the regular season the Dawson County Lady Tigers held off multiple comeback attempts on Friday, Jan. 24 to come away with a hard fought and much needed 63-55 victory over their regional rivals, the Lumpkin County Lady Indians.
After losing a previous match-up with the North Hall Lady Trojans last week and with only two games remaining in the season, the Lady Tigers kept alive their hopes of securing the top seed heading into the 7-AAA regional tournament at season’s end.
As it stands, this win puts Dawson County solidly in the middle of the pack in third place with a slim half game lead over the Fannin County Lady Rebels and two games off of the first place Greater Atlanta Christian Lady Spartans.
The road to the top will be challenging, as the Lady Tigers will need to win out in the last week of the season, while getting help along the way with wins from both East Hall and Lumpkin County — A challenge that Head Coach Steve Sweat believes his team is ready for.
Even this late in the season Sweat said he believes his players are performing at the top of their game.
“They really are starting to play well together,” Sweat said. “Scoring, rebounding, defensively... all aspects of the game.”
The team will also need the leadership of their seniors, Marlie Townley and Sophia D’Oliveira. Fittingly enough, during the Dawson County High School Senior Night, the senior duo played major roles in the team’s tight battle with the Lady Indians.
Townley’s dominating presence under the boards was critical in stopping Lumpkin County’s offensive runs in every period of the game. On top of securing 16 rebounds and netting 15 points, Townley blocked four shots, each one eliciting a wild celebration from the student section, to prevent the Lady Indians from maintaining any momentum in the game.
On the other end of the court, D’Oliveira led the Lady Tigers offensive efforts by doing what she does best, finding the open man. With six assists on the night, in addition to 15 points of her own, D’Oliveira allowed junior Maddie Anglin and freshman Kirlynn Porter to take advantage of wide-open shooting lanes as each shooter racked up multiple three-pointers in the middle periods.
“A big win tonight in Dawsonville,” Sweat said. “What a great way to honor our seniors.”
The game marked a dramatic turnaround for the Lady Tigers when compared to the game against North Hall on Jan. 21 in which the Lady Trojans did a masterful job of bottling up D’Oliveira, holding her to single digit scoring, and plainly outshot the Lady Tigers through the second half of the game.
“We went up against a hot-shooting Lady Trojans team,” Sweat said. “We only scored seven points in the third quarter. In our region that is not going to give you much of a chance to win.”
Dawson County takes to the road for the final two games of the regular season with an overall record of 13-9 and a regional record of 6-4. Both games are regional contests as the Lady Tigers take on the Cherokee Bluff Lady Bears on Jan. 28 followed by the season finale against the East Hall Lady Vikings on Jan. 31.