Marking the un-official beginning of the basketball season, the Fall Classic tipped off Saturday, Sept. 15 at Dawson County High School with a friendly, but highly competitive game between the Dawson County Tigers and the Chestatee War Eagles out of Gainesville.
Featuring a core group of players returning from last year along with a couple of new faces, the 2018 version of the Tigers quickly cruised to a 20-point halftime lead and held on for the 69–53 victory.
Although the games do not count toward the regular season or on the stat sheets, the tournament is the first time that all eight teams from the region will have the opportunity to play each other this year and gives each team the chance to see where they stand as the season approaches.
“It really is a chance to get some early runs in on the year,” said Assistant Coach Jesse Chisum. “It helps the kids stay sharp.”
With new-comer Jason Gibson establishing his presence at the top of the key, and outside shooters Tate Adkins and Luke Chisum dropping three’s with ease, the Tigers opened the game with a quick 9-point run to build the early lead.
The War Eagles adjusted by trying to drive the pace of the game moving into a long-pass, full court style offense that pushed the Tigers hard, but sophomore Mason Barnes aggressively defended his side of the court and the War Eagles quickly found themselves worn down by the Tiger’s fast-break play.
“Barnes should make some noise by the end of the year,” Chisum said. “He brings a physicality to the game.”
The second half saw both teams settle down the pace and move to a more of a shooter’s game, but as time started to wind down the physical nature of both teams re-emerged, and the War Eagles began to cut into the lead with the help of points off fouls. In the end, the half-time lead proved insurmountable, and despite showing a bit of fatigue, the Tigers held on to secure the victory.
“Overall they played great basketball. Built some good chemistry,” Chisum said. “We just need to do a little work on defense and our fast-break pace.”
The team will see more action in exhibition play as the Fall Classic continues on Sept. 22 and then again on Sept. 29.