The Dawson County High School Tigers took second place in the 7-AAA Regional Basketball Tournament at home this past weekend and are heading to the state championship on Saturday.
After finishing third in regular season regional play, the Tigers took third seed against Lumpkin County Feb. 6. Obliterating their competition in a domination of the Indians, DCHS prepared to face East Hall in the semi-finals the night of Feb. 9.
The varsity Tigers knew that East Hall would be a challenge, having lost to the team by 25 points the previous week, and faced the Vikings as both the underdog and the away team in Friday night's showdown.
The game remained tight until the end of the first half and on into the third and fourth quarters. In an extremely physical and fast-paced game, the tournament officiating crew wasn't shy to call fouls on both sides of the ball.
The free throws began to hurt the Tigers, however, when they found themselves behind 56-46 with three minutes and 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Though East Hall stalled to maintain the lead, the Tigers pressed on, capitalizing on free throw opportunities, making clutch three point shots and scoring a 2-pointer with 42 seconds to go.
A free throw shot as a result of a Dawson County foul threatened to blow the game, but the determined Tigers fought on and managed a 2-pointer with 14 seconds to go, sending the Tigers into overtime.
A noisy gymnasium on Friday night coupled with the momentum from their come-back, the Tigers won in overtime 70-67.
Top scorers included Cullen Reed with 23 points and Jeremiah Crumley with 18.
Dawson County was 21 for 27 in free throws.
"I'm really pleased with their resiliency," said Head Coach Chad Pittman. "They were great in overtime, and there was a great atmosphere and crowd on Friday night."
With the win, the Tigers advanced to the regional championship game on Saturday night against Greater Atlanta Christian.
Unfortunately, the victory high was only temporary. In a 71-52 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian, the Tigers walked off the court taking second place in the 7-AAA region.
Having placed second in the region, the Tigers not only qualify for state, but are guaranteed a home game in the first round of the state championship.
That first round of the state championship will be hosted by DCHS, and the Tigers will play Monroe Area at 5 p.m. this Saturday.