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Girls Athlete of the Week: Dawson County's Carly Gilreath

POSTED: January 22, 2013 7:55 p.m.

Dawson County head coach Steve Sweat doesn’t even try to hide it — Carly Gilreath is the go-to girl on this year’s girls basketball team.

“If we need a basket, a lot of times she is the one that gets it for us,” Sweat said. “She takes care of the ball. She puts the ball in places it needs to be, and she’s reduced her turnovers, and that’s helped us a lot.”

A four-year starter at point guard for the Lady Tigers, Gilreath is one of the team leaders in scoring, and Sweat makes it clear that he wants the ball in her hands as much as possible.

“She plays a lot of minutes,” he said. “People look for her to get things set up when she’s not scoring. She is and has been a big spark for our team. She sets the tone well, and our kids feed off of her.”

Last week for the Lady Tigers, Gilreath tallied 15 points against both West Hall on Tuesday and Fannin County on Friday. She scored another 20 against Rabun County on Saturday.

For her efforts, Gilreath is The Times Girls Athlete of the Week.

When she isn’t putting up points, Sweat said that Gilreath is acting as the link between him and the rest of the players.

“I think one of the big things Carly does for us, and you hear people say it a lot of times, is having a coach on the floor, she really does that well,” Sweat said.

Gilreath said that she is not so much of a coach as a motivator for her teammates.

“I guess you would say I’m very vocal on the court but I’m really there to pick everybody up,” she said. “I try to be out there to let them know that everybody does it, everybody misses shots. I definitely have those games where I probably couldn’t throw one in the ocean.”

After reaching her goal of becoming a freshman in the starting five four years ago, Gilreath learned to embrace her role as a leader on the team and has tried to progress in all areas of her game as she gets older. No matter how much she learns and evolves, though, Gilreath always puts the pressure on herself.

“It is a big load to put on yourself, but you’ve got to understand what your role is out there,” Gilreath said. “It’s always going to be my fault if we mess up because I’m supposed to be the leader and make sure that doesn’t happen.

“I feel like I’ve matured now and I’ve realized what Coach Sweat wanted out of me then. I feel like after four years I finally know what he wants.”

Going into her freshman year, Gilreath didn’t believe that she could realize her goal of becoming a starter as a freshman, but now that her aspiration has passed as a reality, she has even bigger dreams. She has already signed with a college team — yet another one of her many goals. Now, she must prove herself.

“I signed with the University of South Carolina-Aiken, so I will be going there for the next four years,” Gilreath said. “Coming through high school, that was my goal, but now I’ve got to continue to work on that. It doesn’t guarantee me playing time, I’ve got to focus on my weaknesses to get me prepared for college.”

Getting prepared for college, at least for now, involves pushing forward with her teammates, whom she said she has great chemistry with, as one of the top girls teams in Region 7-AAA.

She and teammate Sheyenne Seabolt are almost always the top two scorers in any of the Lady Tigers’ games, according to Sweat, but Gilreath said the individual numbers are not what matters to this group.

“We have a really close team this year,” Sweat said. “All the experience together has helped us, and people have accepted their roles on this team.”

“We’ve all played together basically our whole lives and realized this is it for some of us,” Gilreath said. “It’s not about individual play, so me and Sheyenne have never had that in mind. We just do whatever helps us to win this year.

“I feel like that’s why we have so much chemistry is that we don’t care about who scores just as long as we win.”


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