Two of the best teams, with arguably two of the best players in Region 8-AA, squared off Friday night in Dawsonville.
The Dawson County Tigers and the Rabun County Wildcats, ranked No. 7 in AA, fought down to the final buzzer in one of the most exciting games in recent history.
Behind the 24-points of Wildcats Tanner Plemmons, Rabun pulled out a close 58-56 win over coach Thad Burgess' Dawson County Tigers.
Plemmons is the reigning Region 8-AA Player of the Year.
Plemmons has already committed to playing basketball at Stetson University in Florida.
The game was a battle for both teams all night.
With just a few seconds remaining, and down by two points, Tigers Tyler Dominy went up for a shot and was knocked to the ground. There was no whistle on the play and Dawson's chances of upsetting Rabun came to a close.
"We battled to stay close all night to number seven ranked Rabun County and had a chance to win at the end. We were able to keep the game fairly low scoring by playing excellent defense and rebounding," Burgess said.
The teams traded baskets throughout the first and second quarters with Rabun holding a 33-28 advantage at halftime.
Dawson tried to rally in the second half. The Tigers outscored the Wildcats 28-26, but it wasn't enough as the team dropped the 2-point loss.
Three Tigers players scored in double figures. The team was led by Bruce Clark with 15 points. Will Anglin also had a nice game offensively with 14 points followed by Dominy with 11 points.
Dillon Bleckley added 11 points for Rabun County.
Rabun County is currently 13-3 overall, but more importantly the team picked up its first Region 8A-AA win.
"They (Rabun) started five seniors that had played in the state tournament last year, and we played no seniors with four new starters. That played a role in the outcome. Losing a close region game at home really makes things difficult down the road when tie breakers come into play," Burgess said.
Tigers scorers: Clark - 15 points, Anglin - 14 points, Dominy - 11 points, Jonathan Sanderson - 5 points, Lucas Pain - 2 points, Gunnar Armstrong - 5 points and Camron Chester - 4 points.
Dawson righted the ship on Jan. 7 against Lumpkin County in Dahlonega.
The Tigers bounced back after an emotional game with Rabun County the night before and came away with a 54-47 victory.
Once again the Tigers placed three players in double digit scoring. The team was led by Clark with 17 points. Clark also dominated on the offensive boards for the Tigers.
Dominy and Armstrong scored 12 points apiece in the win.
The Tigers led the entire game.
Dawson jumped out to a 20-14 first quarter lead and never looked back.
Burgess' team used the first quarter lead to quietly put away the Indians on their home floor.
Devante Anderson led Lumpkin County with 16 points. Teammate Daniel McCreary added 10 points in the loss.
"It was good to come back and win at rival Lumpkin on Saturday although we didn't play our best. We were able to keep a cushion of about five points the entire night. To be able to sweep Lumpkin after not playing them several years was good in front of a big Dawson County crowd that traveled over to Dahlonega," Burgess said.
Dawson County defeated Lumpkin County 57-43 earlier in the season.
Dawson County scorers: Clark - 17 points, Tyler Dominy - 12 points, Gunnar Armstrong - 12 points, Sanderson - 7 points, Anglin - 4 points and Chester - 2 points.
Dawson County is currently 13-3 overall and 0-1 in Region 8A-AA play.
The Tigers will take the court at 8:30 p.m. Friday at home against Region 8A-AA opponent Fannin County.