Dawson could have easily thrown in the towel two weeks ago when they dropped a 47-35 decision to Jefferson. But this Tiger team is a lot like their coach, who battles every minute of every game.
Head Coach Thad Burgess and his team pulled out a 58-55 overtime victory against Rabun County last Friday night to secure second place in Region 8-AA (A). The victory capped off a terrific last three games, all wins, for the Tigers.
Going into the tournament the Tigers are on a big roll.
“If you would have asked me two weeks ago that we would be in this situation I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Burgess. “Our kids have really stepped up the last three games. All we have to do is win one game in the region playoffs to get us back to the state tournament.”
The Tigers will face Banks County, who they defeated 44-42 back in mid-January, at North Oconee Wednesday. If Dawson can pull off a win, they are headed back to the state playoffs. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m.
Dawson heads into the tournament with a 15-10 overall record. They are 8-4 in Region 8-AA.
Last Tuesday, the Tigers played host to arch-rival Fannin County. It was senior night for Dawson County as they honored Seth Stowers and Blythe Chester.
Burgess commented about his two seniors, “Both Seth and Blythe have been with us the last four years. They have progressed into two very good players. We will miss them.”
The Tigers used a strong first half to come away with a 37-32 win over the Rebels. Dawson opened up a big 28-18 lead at halftime and used a ball control offense in the second half to get a big region win.
“We got off to a great start. Offensively, we struggled a little in the third quarter only scoring two points. But I thought our kids rebounded really well,” said Burgess
Fannin outscored the Tigers 14-9 in the last two quarters, but it wasn’t enough.
“It got us back on track for the goal we set right after the loss to Jefferson,” Burgess said about his team’s effort.
No Tiger scored in double digits.
Kaleb Holbrook and Ben Daniels each had 9 points. Seth Stowers chipped in 8 points and fellow senior Blythe Chester added 4 points. Rounding out the scoring was Stephen Scaife with 4 points and Jacob Evans with 3 points.
Dawson then made the long journey to Tiger on Friday to face a tough Rabun County team. The Tigers lost to the Wildcats, 61-52, earlier in the season. It was an emotionally packed gym as Rabun was celebrating its senior night.
The Wildcats got off to a great start in the first quarter, holding a 12-8 lead. Rabun extended its lead to 24-17 before halftime.
It was a seesaw affair throughout the second half. With seven seconds remaining and the score tied 50-50 the ball was tapped away from Stephen Scaife. It was a mad scramble to retrieve the ball as the buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, Dawson converted on 8-of-12 free throws to take the victory.
“We just kind of kept hanging around,” said Burgess. “We hit a couple of three’s to get us back in the game. It was senior night for them and Rabun played very well. This may have been the best win of the year for us. I was very pleased with the second half.”
Burgess had kind words to say about his sophomore group of Stephen Scaife, Kaleb Holbrook and Jacob Evans, “I thought Stephen handled the ball really well for us down the stretch. Both Kaleb and Jacob hit big baskets for us in the second half.”
The Tigers placed three players in double digits. Evans led all scorers with a game-high 18 points. Holbrook and Blythe Chester had 13 and 10 points respectively. Also getting in the scorebook were Scaife with 8 points, Ben Daniels with 3 points, Seth Stowers added 4 and Mark Dodd scored 2 points.