Through three quarters of East Hall’s Tuesday night region bout against third-ranked Dawson County, it appeared the Vikings would pull off the upset over the visiting Tigers.
But an ill-timed shooting drought for East Hall, coupled with nine straight made free throws from Dawson County’s Jasper Gibson down the stretch proved too much to overcome, and the Vikings fell, 86-74.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” East Hall coach Seth Thompson said. “But I’m happy with the way we competed. We just ran out of gas at the end of the game.”
Kylan Curry led the Vikings (9-9, 4-2 Region 7-3A) with 19 points and dished out five assists, while TJ Campbell added 18 points with a steal and two assists.
Gibson poured in 30 for Dawson County (16-3, 6-1), hitting 15 of 16 free throw attempts — the bulk coming in the final two minutes to help the Tigers shut the door.
“We were fouling the wrong guy,” Thompson said.
Dawson County came out of the gate hot, starting things off on a 8-3 run and holding East Hall to one made basket over the opening three minutes. The Vikings tightened up defensively in the second half of the period, and a timely pair of late hits from Curry kept the hosts in the game.
The teams played even basketball in the second quarter, but the Vikings’ slow start continued to haunt them, trailing throughout the remainder of the first half.
“I think we could have come out and started the game better,” Campbell said. “We could’ve hit more shots at the beginning of the game.”
The Vikings came out of the break looking like a completely different squad.
Campbell connected on a trio of 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the third quarter, then grabbed a steal and hit Curry for an easy layup in transition that brought the Vikings to within two points of the Tigers.
A dunk and a trey from Jay Rucker — the first assisted by Curry and the second by Campbell — knotted the score at 53-all, and a 3-pointer from Mon Prather moments later gave the Vikings their first lead of the night.
Going into the final quarter, East Hall clung to a one-point advantage.
But the team fell flat from there. The Vikings hit on only three shots in the first five minutes of the final frame, while the Tigers quickly re-took the lead and pushed it to five with an 11-6 run. With less than two minutes to play, East Hall was forced to foul repeatedly, but Gibson refused to miss from the charity stripe.
“We were competitive,” Thompson said. “We shot it well. We were there. ... I’m OK with the way we played. I’d just like for us to come out on the other end. We just ran out of gas there at the end.”
DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 62, EAST HALL 53: The Lady Vikings got the better of the No. 7 Lady Tigers in the opening quarter, but it was all Dawson County from there.
Trailing by one after eight minutes, the visiting Lady Tigers held East Hall to just six points in the second period, turning a deficit into a six-point halftime lead. East Hall drew to within four late in the third quarter, but never made it closer than that, as Dawson County closed things out with an 18-point fourth quarter.
Kaylee Sticker had 17 points for Dawson County (12-6, 4-2 Region 7-3A) to lead all scorers. Maggie Griffin put in 14 for East Hall (7-12, 1-5).
“We were right there with them the first quarter,” East Hall coach Justin Wheeler said. “And then they had spurts where they were getting away from us. It’s all because we were making mistakes. We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. And you can’t do that against a good team.”