In a year that looked like the Dawson County Lady Tigers would be relinquished to terms like "rebuilding" and "lots of youth," the team has continued to surprise and peak at the right time.
"As the old saying goes, ‘anything can happen at tournament time.' You should not be intimidated by anybody," said Head Coach Steve Sweat.
The team finished the Region 7-AAA tournament in second place after defeating Union County in the opening round and upsetting East Hall in the second.
Last week, the Lady Tigers upset Monroe High School on the road in Albany to advance to the Elite Eight of the Class AAA state tournament. Dawson won 63-53 over the Tornadoes.
Prior to the state tournament, the team was 10-17 on the year.
According to Sweat, the Lady Tigers had a rough start against the full court pressure of Monroe on Feb. 22 but were able to settle down and close the gap.
Monroe jumped out to a 17-3 lead in the first quarter.
"We played good at first, then not so good, settled down and played really good the rest of the way," Sweat said.
He said that the initial shock of Monroe's pressure put the team on their heels, but once they realized they could break it, they were fine.
"It was a great basketball atmosphere," he said. "Excitement was in the air. Once we saw that we could play with them we were good to go."
He also said that the level of the competition this year contributed to their efforts now.
Kaylee Sticker had 23 points on the night and Emma Brown added 14.
The Lady Tigers battled back through the second period and took a 30-28 lead into the half.
In the third period, Dawson outscored the Tornadoes 18-11 and then closed out the end of the final period on a 10-0 run.
Anna Lowe had 11 points in the game and Cadey Ayers had 8 points. Abi Chatham finished with 6 and Calli Watson had 2.
"One good thing about our team is we have had many different leading scorers throughout the year," Sweat said. "So whoever wants to lead, it does not matter to me as long as we have people doing what they are supposed to do."
Sweat said the team had film to break down before they traveled to face Morgan County and he is so proud of what the team has accomplished this season.
"It means that they have continued to work and improve," Sweat said. "Making memories is fun and I am blessed to be their coach."
The Elite Eight game at Morgan County was on Feb. 28. Results were not available as of press time.
A win would send the Lady Tigers to the Final Four in Savannah, but opponents and game time were not yet set.