Dawson County continued the blistering pace of the early season with three games in five days that included the beginning of the region 3-AAA season schedule. After a home-court battle with the Fannin County Rebels on Dec. 3, the Tigers traveled to Norcross to face the GAC Spartans on Dec. 5 before returning home once again for a re-match with the Flowery Branch Falcons to wrap-up the week on Dec. 7.
Junior Mason Barnes led the Tigers to their highest point total of the year when the Tigers faced the Rebels in Ford Phillips Arena in the first regional game of the 2019-20 season. On the strength of a 33-point third period Dawson County cruised to victory by a final score of 85-43 to gain the early advantage in region 3-AAA.
Barnes led the team with 22-points, shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line and hitting 4 three-point shots in the game. Seniors Jasper Gibson, who finished with 16 points, and Eli Burruss, with 13 points, also sank four three-pointers apiece as the Tigers continued to dominate their opponents from outside the arc.
In total, 10 players from Dawson County put points on the board in what was, according to Head Coach Eric Herrick, an overall team effort that moved the Tigers to 5-1 on the season and 1-0 regionally.
“I was proud of the energy and effort from all of our guys tonight,” Herrick said.
In a re-match of last year’s regional championship game, the Tigers took to the road to face-off against the Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans. And much like last year’s game, the floor belonged to Gibson as he went on a rampage in the first half, scoring 36 points in the opening 16 minutes. Dawson County went on to win the game by a final score of 71-40.
“It was the single greatest half of basketball, offensively, I have seen a kid play,” Herrick said. “And I have been doing this a long time.”
Gibson finished the game with a total of 42 points, sitting out most of the fourth period, to bring his two-game total against the Spartans to a ridiculous 81 points. Assistant Coach Will Anglin was quick to point out that GAC did everything they could to stop him, but when they committed players to Gibson the rest of the team made them pay with shots of their own.
“Obviously, after last year, they knew what he was capable of, and they put a lot of pressure on him,” Anglin said. “But when he was covered our other guys were hitting their shots too.”
Senior Campbell Reed found the net for eight points, while Burruss picked up seven points along with 11 rebounds in an overlooked defensive effort.
Returning home for a rare morning tip-off on Dec. 7, the Tigers put their three-game winning streak on the line in a re-match with the Flowery Branch Falcons. Having beaten the Falcons earlier in a slow-moving game that was closer than expected, Dawson County left nothing to chance this time around.
Reed opened the game with the Tigers first 13 points, personally outscoring Flowery Branch 13-2 in the first three and a half minutes of play. Dawson County finished the first period with a 27-4 lead and never looked back.
Compounding their troubles, Flowery Branch found themselves in team foul trouble in the first minute of the second period, and quickly fell behind the pace as the Tigers not only took advantage of the extra shots but turned several turnovers into points along the way.
With a 46-14 lead to start the second half, Dawson County rested most of the starting line-up giving the Falcons a chance to narrow the gap in the third period as they outscored the Tigers 14-10.
The fourth period produced the best head-to-head action of the night as Flowery Branch matched the Tigers point for point, but it was not enough to overcome the early lead and Dawson County picked up their fourth win in a row by the final score of 76-48.
“We looked sharp going into halftime,” Herrick said. “Not so sharp in the second half. We got lackadaisical and allowed some open shots.”
The Tigers get a long break in between games as they will not take the court again until Dec. 13 when they host the North Hall Trojans in a battle for first place in the region as both teams sit at 2-0 in 3-AAA. The Trojans enter the game carrying a 6-1 overall record, while the Tigers sport an overall record of 7-1. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.