When Dawson County senior Will Anglin was ejected after a pair of technical fouls, East Hall grabbed the momentum.
With two quick 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the court, Tigers junior Jackson Putnam stole it back.
Dawson County went on to hold off Region 7-AAA rival East Hall 51-43 on Friday night in Gainesville to keep its perfect record intact.
But with the loss of Anglin (team-high 15 points) for the next game — a matchup between fellow region title contender Buford at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Dawsonville — the tight win over the Vikings (3-9, 0-4) could prove a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.
Still, Tigers coach Thad Burgess is happy to have it.
“I was just so proud of our guys,” he said. “When Anglin went out of the game, I saw us step up. Putnam came in and played well — he came in and gave us some fire — and we just found a way.”
Anglin had hit a 3-pointer — his fifth of the game and one of the team’s nine total — midway through the third quarter to put Dawson County (14-0, 4-0) ahead 28-24 in a game it had yet to trail in. But he received a pair of technical fouls soon after for showing frustration and then commenting on a referee call, knocking him out of the rest of the game and all of the next.
Vikings freshman Triston Cooper hit 3 of 4 free throws awarded to East Hall, starting an 8-0 run to put the hosts ahead 32-28, with a 3-pointer by Cooper capping the burst.
Dawson County junior Jonathan Sanderson responded with a layup, and then Putnam, stepping in to replace Anglin, took over. His consecutive shots put Dawson County back ahead 36-32, and the Tigers didn’t trail again the rest of the way.
“That’s my offensive game — the 3,” Putnam said. “The energy that Will brings, I play a lot off that coming off the bench.”
The Tigers’ deliberate pace of play and senior-led starting lineup doesn’t make a deep bench as important as other teams, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have bench talent if needed.
“That’s our program,” Burgess said. “People come in to help when needed, and tonight it was his turn.”
Putnam finished with eight points, Camron Chester added nine and fellow senior Tyler Dominy finished with a team-high 13 rebounds and had a couple key blocks down the stretch.
Dominy, generally one of the team’s top scorers, had only four points, but Burgess said his senior leader adjusted by turning into an effective passer as well as crashing the boards.
“He’s going to do what he needs to do to help the team,” Putnam said.
Dominy hit two key free throws with 2:43 in the fourth to cap a 6-0 run after East Hall had come back to tie it at 39 on a Jacquen Hopkins 3-pointer. While East Hall got back within two points after a jump shot by Brian Gregory, junior Lucas Pain (eight points) finished a six-point fourth quarter with a layup to put Dawson County ahead 47-43 with 1:10 remaining. Putnam and Gunnar Armstrong each went 2 for 2 from the free throw line to seal the win.
East Hall saw nine players score in a second consecutive close region defeat (the Vikings fell 59-57 to Buford on Wednesday) but had no one in double figures. Daniel McCreavy led the team with eight points, and Caleb Holtzclaw and Hopkins each finished with seven.
East Hall continues region play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against West Hall.
Dawson County’s matchup with Buford will be a rematch of last season’s second round state tournament game, in which the Tigers upset the Wolves 42-35.
“What hurts us is we’ll be shorthanded,” Burgess said. “And we can’t afford to be shorthanded against a team like Buford.
“I know they’re ready to play us, they circled this game on the calendar.”
DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 65, EAST HALL 52: Forward Sheyenne Seabolt had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Tigers, who jumped out to a 27-7 lead early in the second quarter and never let up on the way to the Region 7-AAA victory Friday in Gainesville.
Seabolt was also a defensive force in the paint throughout the night and she showed her versatility on offense, stepping back to hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Carly Gilreath added 17 points for Dawson County (13-1, 3-1), which outrebounded East Hall 37-22.
Tasia Bailey and Aliah Burrows each scored 16 to lead East Hall (4-7, 0-4).
The Lady Vikings, who won Region 8-AA last season when both schools were in the lower class, made small runs to try and get back in the game, but the Lady Tigers responded quickly each time.
East Hall came within 15 points at 52-37 on a Bailey layup early in the fourth, but Gilreath responded with a jump shot to end the Lady Vikings’ 7-0 run.
East Hall, which made seven 3-pointers, finished the game on a 10-2 run.
Dawson County plays 2012 Class AA runners-up Buford at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Dawsonville for a 7-AAA contest that could very well be a prelude to the region championship game.
East Hall plays West Hall at 6 p.m. Saturday in Oakwood.