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Wednesday May 4th, 2016 4:17AM

7-AAA tournament: Dawson County's 19 enough for victory over East Hall

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
DAWSONVILLE -- Steve Sweat can remember plenty of games in which 60 points weren't enough for victory.

On Wednesday night, however, 19 proved enough.

Facing an East Hall team determined to stall the normally-explosive Dawson County offense, Sweat's Lady Tigers inched ahead bucket by bucket en route to a 19-15 win that clinched a state tournament berth and pushed the Lady Tigers into Friday's semifinal round of the Region 7-AAA tournament.

"I've had teams score 60 and 70 before and not gone to state," Sweat chuckled. "It was a heck of a plan on their part. I told the girls to expect anything tonight, and they made it tough for us."

Indeed, the Lady Vikings took to holding the ball for minutes at a time without even dribbling, daring Dawson County to defend far away from the basket in order to try and open lanes for the smaller, quicker East Hall players.

The Lady Tigers (22-4) were up to the task, however, sinking most of the few shots they took and using a 7-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to effectively seal the contest at 19-8.

"The girls did a great job keeping their concentration, because that's always a concern in a game like that," Sweat said. "I felt OK once we had a big enough lead that one basket wouldn't tie it, but it was still a little nerve-racking -- and you saw how close it got at the end."

Forced to increase the tempo, East Hall (9-16) battled back inside the final two minutes, scoring seven straight of its own, but the push proved too little to prevent a third loss this season to Dawson County -- which won the first two contests of the campaign 65-52 and 64-50.

Next up for the Lady Tigers is a Fannin County team that also suffered two defeats to Dawson County during the regular season -- 49-42 and 53-44. And Sweat says he wouldn't be surprised to see another opponent go to their bag of tricks.

"Why not? It's the playoffs, and you do what you can to win. I don't blame them," Sweat said.

East Hall gave no hints of what was to come at the opening tip, Chelsea Dale drilling a 3-pointer for a quick lead. It was to be the Lady Vikings only field goal of the first half, however. And Dawson County edged ahead, as Carly Gilreath and Allie Costley each sank baskets for a 12-5 advantage at the interval.

While the Lady Tigers went scoreless in the third quarter -- taking just one shot during the eight-minute span -- East Hall only pulled within 12-8 on T.T. Shelton's jump shot at the buzzer.

The basket spurred Dawson County, including Sheyenne Seabolt, who drained a 3-pointer at the start of the fourth quarter. Karlie Bearden also scored to help the Lady Tigers to what -- for this contest -- was a domineering 19-8 lead with just over three minutes to play.

Costley finished with a game-high six points, while Seabolt scored five and Gilreath and Bearden each added four.

Dale led East Hall with five points.

East Hall's season is now complete.

Dawson County will play again at 4 p.m. Friday at North Hall in the 7-AAA semifinals.

"This is a great. It's been a long time since we've been to state, and this is the first time both the boys and girls have been to state in the same season," Sweat said. "We're excited about our opportunity."
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