Dawson County's 12 and under Lady Tigers traveled to Carrollton March 7-8 to compete in the GRPA Class B State Basketball Tournament.
The team earned a bid to the final dance by winning the GRPA District 7 tournament the previous weekend. The state tournament played out like a bittersweet movie for the Lady Tigers, which resulted in four hard fought games against formidable opponents.
The Lady Tigers began pool play on Friday night against the host team, and defending state champions, Carrollton, for seeding into the one day single elimination tournament.
The Tigers came out strong and defeated the defending champs 48-41.
Saturday morning the Lady Tigers picked up where they left off and defeated Effingham County 52-28. The Tigers' strong defense and powerful offense was too much for Effingham.
In the semi-final game, Murray County matched up pretty evenly with the Lady Tigers.
"[Murray County was] a solid team, tough opponent and the team to beat," said Head Coach Stephanie Sosebee.
The Lady Tigers led by one at the end of the first and took a six point lead into the locker room at half time.
Dawson County Parks and Recreation Athletic Director Zak Moore described the first half as "a solid performance."
A neck and neck battle ensued throughout the third and fourth quarters, with both teams struggling with fouls. The end result put Dawson up by six at the buzzer and the hard fought victory earned the Lady Tigers a spot in the championship game.
Championship play began at 6 p.m. with Dawson once again facing Carrollton.
Like Dawson, Carrollton had battled their way through two games earlier in the day to earn a spot in the championship.
Carrollton came out strong and jumped to a 12-4 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Dawson was trailing for the first time in the tournament and Carrollton seemed to be gaining momentum.
By the half, Carrollton had stretched its lead to 10 and the Lady Tigers entered the locker room trailing and running out of gas. The trend continued through the third and into the fourth, with the Lady Tigers trailing by as many as 22 points and missing countless free throw opportunities.
With 3:30 remaining, Dawson found another gear and began chipping away at the Carrolton lead.
With 30 seconds left in the game the Tigers had cut the deficit to three points and with two seconds to go, Bell Tinsley hit a layup to make it a one point game.
The final buzzer sounded before the Lady Tigers could get the ball back, and the team fell by one, 39-38.
"Assistant Coach Jacob Tinsley and I are very proud of the girls. No matter what this past weekend's outcome was, the girls are state champs in our eyes. We played against teams that showed terrible sportsmanship, but our girls still held it together. It has been known that free throws will cost you a game and it definitely did this past weekend," Sosebee said.
Members of this year's team were: Katya Bessiere, Rachel Swafford, Marlie Odum, Bell Tinsley, Mariah Benson, Kinsey Beaty, Jena Lecours, Mattie Grant, Avery Young and Madison Anglin.