The Dawson County High School varsity boys' basketball team has gotten hot at just the right time.
Coach Thad Burgess' squad has won three out of its last four games to finish as the No. 5 seed for the Region 7-AAA basketball tournament.
The Tigers will play Franklin County (11-14, 5-7) in Carnesville at 4:30 p.m. today in Carnesville.
The Tigers have split with Coach Harry Marsh's team this season, winning 53-49 on Jan. 27, while losing 57-55 on Dec. 19. The winner will play East Hall on Friday night in Franklin County.
If the Tigers defeat Franklin they are guaranteed a spot in the state tournament.
East Hall won the regular season title with a 12-0 record. The Vikings are 20-5 overall.
"Wow, what a way to stay fighting and win three out of the last four at the end of our season," Burgess said. "Our basketball program has not gone anywhere and these boys have battled and want to make the state playoffs. We sure could have folded the tent several times, but our guys would not."
Friday's game with West Hall was a must win for the Tigers.
It was also senior night for five of Burgess' players. This year's seniors are J.T. Eggert, Jackson Morgan, Logan Crumley, Brandon Abbott and Levi Whitmire.
The Tigers had revenge on their minds. West Hall defeated Dawson County, 50-48, in early January. This time Dawson County pulled a much-needed victory, 58-48.
Dawson County started the game out fast and took a 16-5 first quarter lead.
The Tigers used their patented 3-2 zone to stifle the Spartans and allowed them just 14 first half points to take a 26-14 advantage into halftime.
West Hall rallied to outscore Dawson 26-12 in the third quarter and held a slim 40-38 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Senior Levi Whitmire led his teammates in the fourth quarter, in front of a packed gym, to the 10-point win. Whitmire led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points.
Eight different players scored for Dawson County. Eggert had eight points; Coey Watson added five points; Cullen Reed with eight points; Morgan scored nine points; Crumley with four points; Joseph Cronan scored five points and Dylan Nix had four points.
Tuesday night saw the Tigers make the long trip to Blue Ridge for a game with Fannin County.
Dawson County fell behind 9-0 to begin the contest, but rallied to cut that deficit to 9-5 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a defensive battle, with Dawson County cutting the Rebel lead to 15-13 at halftime.
Led by Cronan's eight third quarter points, the Tigers forged ahead 28-24 at the end of three.
Cronan finished with a team-high 12 points.
Both teams battled in the final eight minutes with the Tigers coming out on top 49-45. Crumley had seven points in the quarter. He finished the game with 11 points.
The Tigers were clutch in the fourth quarter at the free throw line and connected on 11-of-14. The team was 14-for-18 in the game from the charity stripe.
Behind Crumley and Cronan in the scoring column were: Watson with six points, Levi Whitmire scored eight points, Reed, Eggert and Nix had four points each.
"Our players just refused to lose," Burgess said. "I could not have asked more from our boys, I'm very proud."