OAKWOOD — The West Hall boys basketball team had two quarters remaining in the regular season to conjure up some sort of confidence before next week’s Region 7-AAA Tournament.
It came in the form of a stellar second half, as the Spartans rallied from a one-point halftime deficit to upset Dawson County 62-52 in both team’s regular season finale Friday.
West Hall (11-14, 7-7) outscored the Tigers 37-26 in the second half to enter next week’s region tournament opener with a little extra boost of energy. The Spartans, seeded fifth, will play No. 4 seed East Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Buford High.
“It didn’t change our seed or anything, but I think it gives us a little confidence,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “East Hall is a tough matchup for us, so hopefully we’ll play well.”
The Spartans entered the second half with a 26-25 deficit to shake off, and did so by outscoring Dawson County 17-9 in the third quarter. They opened the quarter with an 11-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from Grayson Tyler and another long-range shot from Tyswon Cantrell.
With a double-digit lead at hand, West Hall never trailed the rest of the game, outscoring the Tigers 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t really make adjustments at all — we kept the sets from the first half and just executed a bit better,” Sellers said. “It sounds simplistic, but you just have to make shots with those guys. You have to be patient, but if you get an open look you have to knock it down.”
West Hall was surprisingly efficient offensively against a Dawson County team that has averaged a region-best 35 points allowed per game this season. The Spartans’ 62 points was the most the Tigers (20-5, 9-5) have allowed all season.
“That’s a shootout for Dawson County,” Sellers said. “Their matchup zone is tough. We found some seams in it, and our kids just played with a lot of confidence.”
Hunter Atkinson led the West Hall with 22 points, while Cantrell scored 10 points in the second half to finish the game with 12. Tyler finished with 15 points, sharpshooting from the arc with five 3-pointers.
“We got a new offense we started running specifically for this team, and it gets me a lot of open looks,” Tyler said. “We have another sideline play that we like to run that will give me the open ball.”
Dawson County, which enters the region tournament as the No. 3 seed, was led by Tyler Dominy, who was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points.
Dominy was most effective in the first quarter, when he scored the Tigers’ first 12 points of the game. The only other basket made by a Dawson County player in the quarter was a layup from Cameron Chester at the buzzer.
Despite Dominy’s efforts, West Hall led 15-14 after the first quarter, but a strong second from the Tigers’ Will Anglin gave his team the slight halftime lead. He scored five of his 10 points in the quarter, including a 3-pointer at the 5:35 mark that gave Dawson County its first lead of the game.
The Tigers close out the regular season with three consecutive losses, their longest skid of the season. They open the region tournament against White County on Tuesday.
DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 70, WEST HALL 32: The Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Spartans 33-8 in the first half and rolled to a victory in their regular season finale Friday in Oakwood.
Dawson County (21-4, 10-4) added another 26 points in the third quarter to secure the win. The Lady Tigers closed out the quarter with a 19-0 run.
Carly Gilreath led Dawson County with 25 points, while Allie Costley added 14 and Kacie Bearden chipped in 10. West Hall was led by Haley Haynes, who scored all of her team-high eight points in the second half.
Dawson County opens the Region 7-AAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed, and will host the No. 7 seed on Wednesday. West Hall travels to Buford at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to face the top-seeded Lady Wolves.