The Dawson County Lady Tigers played three games last week that started on the road with a regional opener against the Fannin County Lady Rebels on Dec. 4.
Led by senior Kaylee Sticker and junior Sophia D’Oliveira, the Lady Tigers established themselves inside the lane early and often during the first period. Junior Marlie Townley contributed points from the free-throw line and Dawson County grabbed an early 16–10 lead.
Sticker continued to drive the offense during the second period going 4 for 4 at the free-throw line as well as dropping in two shots from 3-point range. Townley and D’Oliveira continued to work the inside and the Lady Tigers took a 37–20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Dawson County spread the ball around the field during the third period as senior Anna Lowe, sophomores Bella Henson and Maddie Anglin and freshman Ella Siuta all contributed to the scoreboard. Sticker finished by adding 4 more to her team-high 23 points as the Lady Tigers extended their lead to a comfortable 55–41 heading into the final period.
The Lady Tigers maintained the pressure in the fourth period as Anglin added to her total and sophomore Shyla Sheffield put up 4 points in a late-game appearance. Sophomore Mariah Benson put up 3 points from the free-throw line to close out the win by a final score of 70–44.
“We were able to get off to a better start tonight and led at the end of one,” said Head Coach Steve Sweat. “The Lady Tigers increased their lead in each quarter to win their first region game.”
The second regional game took place at Dawson County High School on Dec. 7 when the Lady Tigers hosted the defending regional champs and state runners-up, the Greater Atlanta Christian Lady Spartans, in a re-match of last year’s regional semi-final.
Both teams opened the game with an aggressive, fast-paced play style and they traded point for point throughout the opening period. D’Oliveira put the Lady Tigers up early with two 3-pointers in the opening minutes, but a run of turnovers allowed the Lady Spartans to close the gap and the Tigers held onto a 1-point lead by a score of 16–15 at the end of the first.
The fast pace continued in the second period and began to favor GAC as they took the lead early and slowed the game down by forcing a series of fouls from the Lady Tigers.
In an effort to spark the offense, Coach Sweat put Sheffield into the game at the halfway mark of the period and she made her presence know immediately, scoring on her first play and leading the Lady Tigers to a late period rally to overtake the Lady Spartans and send Dawson County to the locker room with a hard-fought 35–26 lead.
The Lady Spartans came back determined not to go down without a fight as they mounted an all-out assault on the net. With Kenedi Williams leading the charge, GAC outscored the Tigers 20–15 in the third period to bring the lead back down to a meager 4 points heading into the final stanza.
The game turned physical during the final eight minutes as GAC played a tight press defense and Dawson County continued to drive the lane. Sheffield’s success under the net continued as she netted three more buckets to round out her team leading 22 points, but the Lady Tigers won the game on the strength of their free throw accuracy as they went 13 for 17 in the fourth period and 75 percent overall on the game compared to a 47 percent rating from the Spartans.
One point at a time the Lady Tigers extended their lead until the final buzzer sounded and the home team celebrated a thrilling 75–67 win over the GAC Lady Spartans.
“If this had been a race, the siren would be going off at the Pool Room,” Sweat said.
The final game of the week took place between the Lady Tigers and the Lady Warriors out of White County on Dec. 8 in the Ford Phillips Center of DCHS.
The Lady Tigers opened at a fast pace with Sticker pressing the basket for 6 points and Townley adding 6 of her own. Anglin and Siuta built on the lead as they each added a 3-point shot to the board and Dawson County finished the first period in the lead by a score of 20–14.
White County found new life in the second period and completely shut down the Dawson County offense limiting the home team to a mere 4 points in the quarter. Dasha Cannon led a resurgent offense and White County quieted the home crowd as they took a 28–24 lead at the half.
Free throws yet again proved to be the difference as the Lady Tigers went eight for ten from the line during the third period. Combined with a stiffened defense Dawson County whittled the lead to a mere 4 points as the final period began.
The Lady Tigers went on a 9–0 run in the opening minutes to retake the lead and Sticker proved a force to be reckoned with as she led the Lady Tigers in an offensive frenzy posting 12 of her team-high 23 points as Dawson County held off the White County Warriors to secure the 66–51 victory.
The Lady Tigers are scheduled to take on the Lady Trojans in an early season battle for first place in the region on Dec. 14 at North Hall High School.