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Tigers celebrate Christmas with tournament trophy
Christmas Basketball Tourney
The Dawson County Tigers prepare to take the court for warm-ups prior to a regular season game at Ford Phillips Arena. - photo by Bob Christian

In their longest road trip of the season, the Dawson County Tigers’ basketball team took up residence on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for the three-day Bobcat Holiday Classic hosted by Bluffton High School during the weekend of Dec. 26-28.

“Nothing better than basketball at the beach,” Head Coach Eric Herrick said, via the team’s Twitter account. “We open up the tournament in a battle against David Crockett High School out of Tennessee. Business first, pleasure second.”

Tipping off at 7:30 p.m. against the Pioneers out of Jonesborough on Dec. 28 the Tigers showed a little bit of rust from the four-day Christmas break to find themselves trailing by two points at the end of the first period and six points by halftime.

A third period rally led by seniors Jasper Gibson and Campbell Reed gave the Tigers a slim lead heading into the final minutes of the game and Dawson County held off the Pioneers to escape with a 65-61 first round victory.

Reed led the team with 19 points, followed by Gibson’s 17. Junior Mason Barnes rounded out the Tigers top scorers in the game with 14 points.

On day two of the trip, Dawson County took advantage of the locale to enjoy a day at the beach and a seafood lunch before another late evening game, this time with tournament hosts the Bluffton Bobcats.

Four players finished the game with double digits in the points column as the Tigers opened up an early lead on the Bobcats and then held off a surprisingly strong fourth quarter push to nab their second victory of the tournament by a final score of 59-41.

Gibson’s 15 points led the Tigers in game two, with Reed and Barnes close behind at 14- and 13-points respectively. Senior Eli Burruss posted double-double numbers with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I loved the way our guys competed and handled the pressure at the end of the game,” Herrick said. “We will try to finish off this amazing road trip with a championship trophy to bring back to Dawsonville.”

Playing in the early afternoon of Dec. 28, Dawson County matched-up with the Waxhaw, North Carolina based Marvin Ridge Mavericks in what turned into a tight battle for the tournament title.

With their typical fast-paced style of play, the Tigers opened up a huge lead in the first period, outscoring the Mavericks 19-6 in the opening eight minutes. Marvin Ridge returned the favor in the second period, doubling up Dawson County 18-9, to cut the lead to a mere 4 points at halftime

The second half saw the teams go point for point, scoring an even 16 in the third and 15 in the fourth, as neither team could pull away. As the final buzzer sounded, it was still only 4 points that separated the teams as Dawson County held on for the 59-55 victory.

Barnes took his turn atop the scoring leaders with 15 points, while Reed maintained his consistency with 14. Gibson rounded out the top scorers in the final game with 10 points.  All three players were named Bobcat Holiday Classic All-Tournament team in recognition of their three-game efforts.

“I loved the way our guys came together in the last couple of days,” Herrick said. “Good teams are built on the floor. Great teams are built off the court.”

With trophy in hand the Tigers returned to Dawsonville on Sunday, Dec. 29 and will enjoy another holiday break as the team takes a few days off to celebrate the New Year. Dawson County returns to action on Jan. 3 when they host the Cherokee Bluff Bears in the first game of a grueling four game stretch of regional action.