Playing in their first state championship game since 1991 the Dawson County Lady Tigers came up on the short end of a 77-55 decision to St. Pius X.
Coach Steve Sweat was headman 21 years ago when Dawson County lost to Clinch County.
A capacity crowd from Dawsonville made the two-hour trip to Macon for the Class AAA championship game. Dawson County fans filled the stands at the Macon Centreplex to watch their beloved Lady Tigers play.
The Golden Lions from Region 6-AAA jumped out to an 11-1 lead before Dawson County rallied behind the play of post player Ashley Parker.
"I am so proud of the way our team played," Sweat said. "St. Pius has two guards that are difficult to guard and when they get going they were hard to stop.
Parker scored six points in the quarter to cut the St. Pius lead to 14-11 with 1:29 to play.
With only 19 seconds remaining in the quarter Sheyenne Seabolt stepped in front of an errant St. Pius pass and laid it up to cut the score to 16-13 at the end of the quarter.
Dawson County tied the score at 16-16 at the 7:05 mark of the second. The Lady Tigers took their only lead of the game, 21-19, on a three-pointer by Seabolt with 6:13 to go before halftime.
Jasmine Carter and Asia Durr then went to work for Coach Kyle Snipes' team. Turnovers and missed shots allowed Durr and Carter to exhibit why they are elite players.
The two underclassmen drove to the basket and converted several outside shots to spur St. Pius on a 13-0 run and a 34-21 lead. The Lions never relinquished the lead.
Durr finished the game with 26 points while Carter scored 19. Durr also converted 11-of-13 free throws.
St. Pius didn't let up in the second half and extended its lead to as much as 22 points in the third quarter.
Dawson County was in foul trouble for much of the afternoon. Three Lady Tigers fouled out in the contest, Kenna Seitz, Seabolt and Parker.
St. Pius converted 25-of-35 free throws in the game. Dawson County was 12-for-17.
Ashley Parker, a sophomore, had 20 points for Sweat's team. She also pulled down eight rebounds in the game.
Senior Carly Gilreath finished her career with 14 points, three assists and three steals.
Sophomore Seabolt also scored 14 points with six rebounds in the loss.
"We now have to say goodbye to our six seniors. They have worked so hard and accomplished so much. There aren't many players in this game that can say they have a trophy and played for a state championship," Sweat said.
Dawson County will graduate Gilreath, Kacie Bearden, Hannah Porter, Allie Costley, Whitney Glover and Kenna Seitz.
"I'm just really happy to be able to enjoy this moment with these girls," said Seitz. "It is a blessing that doesn't happen often. For it to happen to us, a small little town, it's a Cinderalla story that almost came true."
According to Gilreath, she wouldn't have wanted her senior season to end any other way.
"It's just been great. I just want to thank all the fans and everybody that came out and supported us. Obviously, you can tell from the crowd tonight that we have most fans and support than anybody. It has been a great season," Gilreath said.
The Lady Tigers finished the season with a 27-6 record.
State champion St. Pius are 30-3 overall.
Scoring for Dawson County were: Gilreath-14 points, Seabolt-14 points, Costley-5 points, Seitz-2 points and Parker-20 points.
Scoring for St. Pius were: Mackenzie Garrison - 11 points, Jasmine Carter - 19 points, Asia Durr - 26 points, Adriana Daves - 3 points, Laura Redmon - 9 points, Miah Allen - 4 points, Sabrina Thomas - 1 points, Sallie Varner - 2 points and Courtney Tuttle - 2 points.