The Dawson County Tigers traveled to Commerce last week for the Commerce Classic Christmas tournament and played three games over a three day span getting a 78-35 win over Lake Oconee Academy on the last day of play.
The varsity boys opened play on Dec. 27 against Stephens County and lost that game 80-62.
"They are really athletic," said Coach Chad Pittman about the Indians. "Where we can usually attack and score, it was somewhat limited. We were one of 10 from behind the 3-point line."
Beyond the troubles from behind the line, the team struggled on the defensive end as well against a large and physical 4A Indians team who is now 9-3 overall.
"We can't have a lull on both ends of the floor. If we aren't shooting it well, we have to be even better on defense to create some easy offense to get our confidence back," Pittman said.
During their Dec. 28 matchup with Hebron Christian Academy, the Tigers went down early and battled back for the duration of the game, coming to within two before losing 60-54.
"That was a letdown in my opinion," Pittman said. "We are kind of a mirror of Hebron. I felt like we kind of went back to the mentality we had earlier in the year. We will flip the switch and save ourselves."
Throughout the first half of the game, there was a noticeable lack of foul calling and the refs let the players fight it out underneath.
Cullen Reed was blocked early with a no call and Coey Watson returned the favor on the other end.
Jeremiah Crumley got the Tigers on the board with a drive for a basket underneath and Reed followed with a 3-pointer from the top left on the next possession.
Reed finished the game with 18 points. That included five 3-pointers before fouling out in the fourth.
Crumley had 8 points on the afternoon.
After one quarter, the Tigers were down 20-11.
Reed, Ryan Gallenkamp and Crumley accounted for the 10 points in the second quarter.
Reed had a drive into the lane and a three from up top before Gallenkamp had a put back on a Crumley miss down low and Crumley drove and got the assist when he sent the ball back out to Gallenkamp for a three.
At half, Hebron held a 29-21 lead.
Much to everyone's surprise, the second half was laden with foul calls.
After a Gallenkamp two in the middle and a Hebron timeout, Corey Hammond had an and one that brought the bench to their feet.
Connor Almon of the Lions came up with his own basket plus one on the foul at the opposite end on the next play.
Watson got a steal and assist with a pass to Crumley for two and Crumley quickly came up with a steal of his own but was called for the foul.
The Lions had back-to-back threes with a foul called on Gallenkamp on the offensive end.
After a Watson steal and a skirmish that left coaches baffled by the call, a technical foul was assessed on the Hebron bench and Reed went to the line, making both.
Joseph Cronan went to work, putting in a three and then drawing fouls on the next two possessions, making three of the four from the line.
Cronan finished with 13 points.
Reed sunk another of his threes at the buzzer to end the third with the Lions up 48-39.
Reed's next 3-pointer would cut the lead to 8 points and prompt a time out with 6:10 to play.
The Tigers continued a steady battle back despite the foul calls on traps and pressure at half court.
With a little more than two minutes to play, Reed left with his fifth foul and the Tigers took a time out with 2:06 to play, down 54-47.
Out of the break, Crumley went to the line and hit both.
Gallenkamp came up with a basket and one after the Lions got one from the line to cut the lead to only 3.
The Lions would score on yet another foul, getting one of two from the line and then Watson hit a two to make it 56-54 with 25 seconds to play.
The Tigers were forced to foul to keep the game going, but the Lions pulled away making four from the free throw line.
"We wouldn't have deserved to win even if we had won," Pittman said.
Pittman said that despite the prior week's four game win streak, the Tigers are not yet where he'd like them to be.
"I hope it was some humble pie in that we are not good like that," he said.
In Dawson's final game of the tournament, the Tigers took on a less mature Lake Oconee Academy and got the easy 78-35 win.
"Today was good because we did come out with a lot of effort and energy with a lesser opponent. That was good," Pittman said.
Crumley started the scoring early and kept it going throughout the first half, scoring 21 of the team's 42 points in the first two periods of play.
He took it to the basket right after tip and was fouled after a Gallenkamp rebound. He hit both from the line.
After a Kane Palfrey put back, Crumley went coast-to-coast for another two before the Titans would call their first time out of the day.
Crumley would finish with 24 points, despite limited court time in the second half.
Also in the first quarter, Cronan hit threes from both sides of the arc.
In the second period, Crumley and Watson would both snag steals and score.
The Tigers had the Titans doubled up at half with the 42-21 lead.
Out of the half, Crumley went back to work with a 3-pointer up top. Reed would follow that with a bucket off of a Crumley assist.
Reed ended with 10 points and Watson added 12.
Watson had multiple steals that he would take to the hoop for easy points.
Conan finished Thursday with 9 points.
The win takes the Tigers to 8-7 overall and 2-1 in region play.
"Every game from here on out means something. We have got nine region games and that one game with Marist," Pittman said.
Dawson County played at North Hall on Jan. 3 but results were not available as of press time. The team will travel for an 8:30 p.m. game at East Hall on Jan. 6.