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Lady Tigers split key regional games
Lady Tigers Basketball
Sophomore Avery Herring shoots a free-throw against the East Hall Lady Vikings on Jan. 7. - photo by Bob Christian

After handily defeating the East Hall Lady Vikings on Jan. 7, the Lady Tigers fell short against the Fannin County Lady Rebels on Jan. 10 to split a pair of key regional games in week nine of the 2019-2020 basketball season.

Playing at home against the Lady Vikings, Dawson County looked to be in top form as they began the second rotation of regional action. Using the full-court attack favored by head coach Steve Sweat, the Lady Tigers forced several turn-overs to open up a quick 10-point lead.

“We have been working on the press in practice,” Sweat said. “Trying to get the little things down.”

The second period was marked by the strong defensive play of senior Marlie Townley. Snagging rebounds on both ends of the court, Townley led the Lady Tigers on an impressive 17-5 run to give Dawson County a 42-19 lead headed into halftime.

East Hall briefly challenged the Lady Tigers with nine unanswered points to open the second half, but Townley quickly re-established herself under the net, preventing a sustained run from the Lady Vikings.

A pair of three-pointers, one each from junior Maddie Anglin and freshman Kirklyn Porter, rallied Dawson County and the Lady Tigers regained the momentum to finish the quarter with a commanding 26-point lead.

With such a large lead to work with, Coach Sweat emptied the Lady Tigers’ bench, giving the younger members of his roster an opportunity to gather some valuable game experience.

Seizing the chance, sophomore Avery Herring demonstrated excellent ball-handling skills with a nifty drive through a pair of defenders for two-points, while freshman Rees Moore displayed her accuracy from the free-throw line as the Lady Tigers closed out the 63-40 victory.

“I try to get them as much experience as possible,” Sweat said. “Hopefully, it will come in handy towards the end of the season and into tournament play.”

Townley led the team in scoring with 18 points, falling just shy of double-double numbers with nine rebounds. Anglin and fellow junior Mariah Benson rounded out the top scorers with 10 points apiece on the night.

On the road in Fannin County on Jan. 10, the game against the Lady Rebels played out in almost the exactly opposite fashion as the Lady Tigers fell just short in their second regional game of the week.

Sloppy passing by the Lady Tigers led to five turnovers in the opening minutes of the game giving the Lady Rebels a quick 9-0 lead. After the initial rally both teams struggled for points, but Fannin County managed to double up Dawson County 15-6 by the end of the first.

Dawson County began to find some momentum in the second period, but still found more iron than net and went into halftime trailing by a score of 26-14.

Returning to the floor after the break, the Lady Tigers finally began to look true to themselves as they controlled the pace of the game and ratcheted up the pressure on the Lady Rebels. For the first time in the game, Dawson County outscored their opponent and whittled the lead down to a manageable four points heading into the fourth period.

The final eight minutes of the game was a tightly fought battle that saw the two teams exchange the lead multiple times before the buzzer. Dawson County fought back to gain their first lead of the game with slightly more than four minutes remaining.

The Lady Rebels responded with an accurate outside game that featured some of their most accurate shooting of the night, and took the lead back with a beautiful three-pointer from senior Megan Holt.

Despite outscoring the Lady Rebels in the final stanza and nearly doubling their own score, the Lady Tigers’ rally fell just short and the buzzer sounded on a final score of 54-53 in favor of Fannin County.

“As I have said many times before, you have to be ready to play every night in our region or you will get beat,” Sweat said. “Unfortunately, that was the case tonight.”

For the second game in a row, Townley led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 24 points. Porter was the only other Lady Tiger to hit double digits with 17 points in the contest.

The loss broke a three-way tie for first place in region 7-AAA, dropping Dawson County into second place with a record of 5-2 in the region and 11-7 overall.

The Lady Tigers had the opportunity to move back into first when they hosted the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans (9-9, 5-1) on Jan. 14. Results were unavailable as of press time.