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Lady Tigers come up short against West Hall in rematch
girls bball
West Hall guard Aashyah White (32) shoots the ball during the Region 7-3A game between West Hall and Dawson County in Oakwood on Dec. 19. West Hall defeated Dawson County 45-61. -Photo by David Barnes for the Dawson County News

The last time the Dawson County High girls basketball team played West Hall, a big second quarter launched the Lady Tigers to a double-digit victory on their home court earlier this month.

Class 4A’s seventh-ranked Lady Spartans made sure that didn’t happen a second time. They returned the favor during Tuesday night’s rematch in Oakwood.

Some uncharacteristic mistakes manifested for the No. 7 Lady Tigers (Class 3A) before halftime as Dawson County committed 11 of its 22 turnovers in the second quarter, allowing West Hall to sprint ahead and pull away with a 61-45 win.

Dawson County coach Steve Sweat said there were no excuses, even after his team just played its fourth game in five days and was without starting forward Kaylee Sticker, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury.

“It does take a toll. Of course they played a lot too,” Sweat said of their circumstances. “It was just one of those games where we couldn’t get anything going. ... Of course, give (West Hall) some credit with their defense too. We had a lot more turnovers tonight than we’ve had in a while.”

The Lady Spartans (8-4) overcame a slow start and a narrow first-quarter deficit to get a bevy of baskets in transition off steals and outscore their visitors 22-9 in the second period.

West Hall senior Anna McKendree (eight steals, 9-for-9 free throws) was held without a field goal in the opening period with Dawson County (7-3) keeping her pinned along the perimeter. She eventually broke through the defenses to ignite a West Hall scoring flurry, racking up 12 of her game-high 26 points in the second quarter.

The school’s all-time leading scorer even showed some toughness after slamming the back of her head on the floor off a hard collision underneath the basket midway through the period.

McKendree drove to the basket off a steal to knot the score at 11-all at the start of the second quarter. She followed a Kinsey Wilson (nine points, four assists) layup with a long step-back 3-pointer from the left wing that gave the Lady Spartans even more fuel during a four-mintute, 14-2 scoring surge.

West Hall coach Bryan Richerson was pleased with the output generated in spreading the ball around on offense and the way his team kept Dawson County at bay defensively in the zone.

“When we started seeing openings from other players, we got layups when we made them, Richerson said. “But Anna knows how to get everybody else involved, and that only helps her out.”

The Lady Tigers were limited to just three field goals in response, and West Hall carried an 11-point lead into halftime.

“When you play good position defense and you try to make passes past that, it’s not gonna work,” Sweat said. “So they did play good defense, and we turned it over.”

West Hall benefitted from the biggest chunk of Dawson County’s giveaways despite seeing three of its starting five in foul trouble before the break, including Aashyah White (eight points), who received her third infraction midway through the second period.

The Lady Tigers did manage to get something going on the defensive side, forcing 23 West Hall turnovers for the contest, but Dawson County still couldn’t recover in the final 16 minutes. The Lady Spartans extended possessions by crashing the boards and maintained a comfortable lead in the third quarter, even leading by 20 twice during the fourth.

Cadie Shirley was the only other starter to score in double digits for the Lady Spartans with 10 points. Emma Brown had eight points to lead the scoring efforts for Dawson County, followed by Cadey Ayers with seven.

“Defensively, we weren’t as focused as we needed to be, but we came out in the second half and finished it off,” Richerson said. “I’m proud of them. It was a good win for us.”

West Hall returns to action when it hosts Jefferson at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Dawson County is idle until it travels to Cherokee, North Carolina, for the Cherokee Holidays on the Hardwood tournament Dec. 27-28.

DAWSON COUNTY BOYS 58, WEST HALL 49 (OT): The Tigers (8-2) nearly achieved a perfect mark from the free throw line (11 of 12) to account for their entire output in the extra period and upstage the Spartans on the road.

Dawson County’s Campbell Reed knocked down seven 3-pointers as part a 31-point outing to lead all scorers. He went a perfect 6 for 6 from the charity stripe to lead the Tigers in overtime after the contest was knotted at 47-all by the end of regulation. Also for the Tigers, Cullen Reed scored 12, followed by Kane Pelfrey with seven.

Noah Edmondson (20 points) and Dee Buffington (15 points) paced the Spartans, who after managing a single field goal in overtime fall to 4-6 overall.