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Lady Tigers earn state playoff berth after revenge win over North Hall
The Lady Tigers played well defensively all night, allowing the team to lead by at least eight points for the entire game after the first quarter. - photo by Rio White

After a resounding win in the first round of the Region 7-AAA tournament, the Dawson County girls basketball team followed up with a 53-37 victory over North Hall in the second round, securing both a trip to the semifinals of that tournament as well as a berth in the state playoffs.

Earlier this season, the Lady Tigers had come up just short on two occasions against North Hall, losing by a combined nine points. An aggressive defensive approach to start Thursday night’s matchup was an indication that the team was aiming to avoid a repeat of those losses.

“I thought we absolutely dominated the boards,” head coach Eric Herrick said. “We contested their shots a lot better than we did in the past two games. Our whole game plan…was to defend the three-point line and dominate the glass.”

Playing at the neutral site of East Forsyth, the two teams could not have had different starts to the game. Naturally, Kirklyn Porter drained a pair of 3-point shots to start the night while Abby Slaton chipped in with one of her own in the opening minutes.

Kirklyn Porter looks to pass the ball down the court to Ella Siuta. Porter’s early 3-point shots set the tone for the Lady Tigers. - photo by Rio White

Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans could not find a shooting groove in the opening quarter — or for the majority of the game. Dawson County took advantage of this early, combining their shooting success from deep with some efficient inside play.

This combination was displayed early on by shots from Emma Grace McCarron and drives inside by Eva Bishop.

Defensively, the Lady Tigers prevented their opponents from finding success at the 3-point line and out-rebounded the Lady Trojans on both ends of the floor. 

By the end of the first half, the Lady Tigers held a 32-18 lead. The second half would prove to be a test of the team’s resolve.

Despite a sluggish start to the third for Dawson County, North Hall failed to capitalize offensively. Continued missed shots and turnovers gave the ball back to the Lady Tigers, who in turn also missed chances to widen the margin of their lead.

After those missed shots and critical fouls, Dawson County found themselves up by just 8 points after the third quarter.

Eventually, the Lady Tigers fought through the frustrations of the third quarter and made several shots to keep the lead. In the end it was Slaton and Porter who led the team in shooting and to the free-throw line several times to finish off the game, finishing with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Next, the Lady Tigers will play Lumpkin County on Saturday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. Cherokee Bluff will be the host for that day’s slate of games. 

Despite Lumpkin County’s 23-1 record this season — and a state playoff trip already sealed for Dawson County — Herrick has no intention of letting up.

“We’re going to have to play with intensity and match their physicality,” Herrick said. “We’re thrilled for this opportunity.”