The Dawson County High School varsity boys' basketball team returned home on Saturday as champions of the Battle of the States tournament at Towns County High School in Hiawassee.
Head Coach Thad Burgess' team defeated Hayesville, N.C. 53-39 in the championship game to bring home the first place trophy.
"We beat a very good Hayesville team that had been averaging over 75 points per game. Hayesville really struggled with our match-up zone defense," Burgess said about the team who was 9-0 coming into the game.
The Tigers used their match-up 3-2 zone to limit Hayesville to just nine first half points and establish a 22-9 lead.
Hayesville picked up the pace in the second half to score 30 points but it wasn't enough as Dawson County held on to a 14-point win in front of a festive crowd in Hiawassee.
Cameron Millholland led a trio of Tiger players in double figures with 17 points. Levi Whitmire and Lucas Pain scored 12 and 11 points respectively in the win.
Also entering the scoring column were Sam Muenchen with five points and JT Eggert, Logan Hammond, Jackson Putnam and Terrell Dawson with two points each.
Hayesville made it to the championship game with 51-37 win over Polk, Tenn.
Pain was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
"Lucas has been our leading scorer all year and has taken a leadership role with the team," Burgess said.
Whitmire and Muenchen were named to the All-Tournament team.
"Levi (Whitmire) handled the ball and Sam (Muenchen) led us on the boards also played real well in the tournament," Burgess said. "I also thought that Cameron Millholland had a super tournament and played his best three games for us this year."
The Tigers qualified for the championship game with a close 59-52 win over Gordon Lee High School (5-6) on Friday night.
Dawson County trailed at halftime 30-26 before rallying in the second half behind a huge fourth quarter outscoring Gordon Lee 20-8 to take the win.
Scoring was spread out evenly against the Trojans with Whitmire leading the way with 13 points. Also scoring in double digits were Muenchen with 12 points and Millholland and Putnam with 11 points each.
Pain added nine points and Morgan had three points in the win.
Ryan Armour led Gordon Lee with 20 points.
The Tigers began the tournament on Dec. 26 with a big win over arch-rival Union County (6-5) by a 59-42 win.
Burgess' team jumped out to a commanding 33-19 lead at halftime and outscored the Panthers 26-23 in the second half to take the victory.
Pain led the Tigers in scoring with 17 points followed by teammate Millholland with 12 points.
Seven more Tigers scored, led by Morgan with eight points, Muenchen - seven points, Dawson - five points, Whitmire - three points, Putnam - three points and Kolton Brumbelow and Brandon Abbott with two points each.
Hunter Hughes led Union County with 16 points.
"We played super all three days," Burgess said. "Our match-up zone really caused problems to all the teams in the tournament. We were consistent offensively for all four quarters in each game we played. I thought we got solid minutes from all players and our scoring was spread out each day," Burgess said.
Up next for Dawson County will be a huge Region 7-AAA game at home with East Hall at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.
On Jan. 7 the Tigers will travel to Buford for a big game against the Wolves. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.