Dawson County combined a red-hot offense with a stifling defense to defeat the North Forsyth Raiders by a final score of 70-44 on Nov. 26 capturing third place in the North Forsyth Thanksgiving Classic basketball tournament.
After cruising through the first round with a 70-59 win over Creekview, the Tigers ran into stiff competition from the Cherokee Warriors in the second round. Despite the 67-62 loss in game two, Dawson entered the final match of the tournament heavily favored over the tournament hosts.
Although Dawson County established a good rotation early in the first period, a handful of fouls led to a limited number of shots and the Tigers finished the opening eight minutes with a meager two-point lead at 14-12.
Senior Brody Howell, in his 2019-20 basketball season debut led a trio of defenders that included fellow senior Eli Burrus and junior Max Tierney in dominating the boards at both ends of the court, holding the Raiders to six points over the second eight minutes of play.
The Tigers’ defensive efforts gave senior point guard Jasper Gibson and his counterpart, junior Mason Barnes, plenty of scoring opportunities as the duo combined for 13 of the team’s 19 second period points and Dawson County hit the locker room with a 33-18 lead.
North Forsyth rallied in the third period, outscoring the Tigers 17-16, but the effort was not enough to overcome the deficit and the Raiders continued to trail going into the final period.
Dawson County’s defense stepped up a second time in the closing segment, preventing any successful shots from the outside and limiting the Raiders to single digits for the second time in the game.
On the other side of the court, the Tigers found the sweet spot from three-point land, led by senior Tate Adkins’ sniper like precision as he dropped three field goals in the fourth period alone. Barnes added a pair of his own, and Gibson along with senior Campbell Reed also found the net from beyond the arc as Dawson County put 22 points on the board to put the game out of reach of the Raiders.
Head Coach Eric Herrick was thrilled with the team’s long-distance game but was happier with the fact that everybody was involved in the win.
“Nothing better than heading into the break after a great team win,” Herrick said. “I love watching our guys share the ball, defend, and play as a team. Sixteen made three’s doesn’t hurt either.”
Barnes sank a total of eight shots, four from the floor and four field goals, to lead the team with 20 points. Reed was all over the court as well, scoring 15 points on a variety of shots, while Adkins scored all of his 15 points on the long ball, going 5-for-5 from the arc.
Gibson added 13 points to the board along with seven assists, bringing his three game totals to 54 points and 19 assists to lead the team in both categories through the Classic earning him recognition as a member of the All-Tournament team when the final awards were presented.
The victory extends the Tigers early season record to 4-1 as they prepared to host the Fannin County Rebels in the season’s regional opener on Dec. 3. Results were unavailable as of press time.