The Dawson County Tigers did their best in creating some separation from the logjam of teams behind them in Region 7-AAA on Tuesday night, earning a 69-66 overtime win over West Hall in Oakwood.
Dawson County coach Thad Burgess couldn’t overemphasize the importance of the win for the Tigers.
“That was one of our biggest wins of the year,” Burgess said. “On a Tuesday, on the road, you know West Hall is very good. (Spartans) Coach (Warren) Sellers has them ready to play.
“We’re basically a whole new team. I’ve got guys who have never been in back-to-back overtime games. I’m playing about five players and it completely drains you, but I loved the energy.”
Led by Lucas Pain’s 30 points, the Tigers improved to 14-4 overall, but more importantly, 5-2 in region play. They now have at least a 1 ½-game lead over the next team in the region, putting them in position to secure the No. 2 seed for next month’s region tournament.
“Coach was saying it was a really big tiebreaker,” Pain said. “We’ve already knocked off East Hall and North Hall and we’ve only lost to White County and Buford. And East Hall beat White County which kind of helped us out, too.”
With six games remaining, the Tigers now find themselves in a good position, with a chance to redeem themselves Jan. 21 at White County and Jan. 31 at Buford.
Needless to say, there is a lot to play for down the stretch.
“We’re all battling for second place, third and fourth place,” Burgess said. “Buford looks like they’re going to kind of run away with it. But you want to, kind of, try and at least be in that spot, a two, three or four, and have a chance.”
After watching their 10-point third-quarter lead be erased, the Tigers found themselves trailing by two points in overtime after West Hall’s Hunter Atkinson drained a jumper in the paint to make the score 62-60 with 2:47 remaining.
But Dawson County responded with a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Pain, followed by a field goal from Cameron Millholland to take a 65-62 lead.
After a West Hall (7-8, 2-4) free throw made the score 65-63, West Hall was forced to foul Dawson County, putting the Tigers into the bonus. At the free throw line, the Tigers extended their lead, going four of five from the line to make the score 69-63.
“I thought tonight we didn’t play our best, but I thought we just battled and fought,” Burgess said. “I loved the energy and how we kept on playing. We made some free throws when we needed to.”
West Hall cut the score to 69-66 with a 3-pointer from Ty Statham. Then, following a Dawson County turnover on an inbounds play, the Spartans’ last chance 3-pointer from Luke Castillo clanked off the rim.
“When we threw out of bounds, I was a little scared because they were shooting it real well all game,” Pain said. “But after that shot back-rimmed it, I was pretty relieved.”
Along with his 30 points, Pain also finished with a game-high 12 rebounds for Dawson County. Levi Whitmire finished with 14 points, while Millholland contributed with nine for the Tigers.
Atkinson led West Hall with 23 points, while Deandre Peoples finished with 13 points after scoring 10 straight in the fourth quarter to put the Spartans ahead 58-56 with 1:47 remaining.
A pair of free throws from Pain knotted the game even at 58-58, sending the game into overtime.
The first half was fairly even, with the teams swapping the lead four times in the closing minutes of the second quarter. The Tigers, who led 32-28 at the half, started strong in the third quarter, building a 40-30 lead, before West Hall closed within one, 45-44, at the end of the quarter.
DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 62, WEST HALL 31: Dawson County outscored West Hall 33-10 across the final 1 ½ quarters to earn a commanding Region 7-AAA victory on Tuesday night in Oakwood.
Sheyenne Seabolt posted a double-double for Dawson County (13-5, 4-3), leading all players with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Karlie Bearden finished with 11 points — all coming in the third quarter — for the Lady Tigers, while Erin Chatham contributed with nine.
Jensen Hall finished with nine points for West Hall (5-9, 0-6).
Leading 29-21 midway through the third quarter, Dawson County used a 15-2 run to close out the third quarter, building a 44-23 lead over the Lady Spartans. The run continued into the fourth quarter, as West Hall was limited to just four field goals in the frame.
West Hall grabbed an early 12-7 lead, but gave way to a 12-0 Dawson County run in the second quarter, which saw the Lady Tigers grab a 19-12 lead.
West Hall ended the Lady Tigers’ run at the 4:54 mark of the second quarter with a pair of free throws from Karlie Bearden. Bearden’s free throws were the only points by West Hall in the entire quarter until Megan English converted a free throw in the closing second to make the score 25-15.