RABBITTOWN -- Even East Hall coach Joe Dix couldn't watch as his team repeatedly went to the free throw in overtime trying to knock off Dawson County Friday in a key Region 7-AAA contest at Valhalla.
"Sometimes I make (the kids) nervous when I watch so I just turned around," Dix said.
Superstitious or smart, whatever you want to call it, it worked as the Vikings hit hit 7-of-10 free throws in overtime to pull out a nail-biting 47-43 win.
The win pulled East Hall (10-9, 7-3 Region 7-AAA) even with the Tigers (16-5, 7-3) for second place in the region standings. However, East Hall has already faced region-leading Buford twice while Dawson County still must face the Wolves again, next Friday in Dawsonville.
The Tigers had knocked off East Hall 60-50 in the first meeting in Dawsonville. East Hall has now won six-of-its-last-eight games overall.
The fourth quarter and overtime was one long chess match between Dix and Dawson County coach Thad Burgess. Dix would take the air out of the ball while Burgess, despite trailing the entire time, was content to sit back in their zone and wait for the right opportunity to strike.
Dix and the Vikings eventually got checkmate.
"We've done that before," Dix said. "We had the lead and the way the game was going it seemed the right thing to do. It worked out, fortunately."
East Hall had a 35-26 lead late in the third quarter but the Tigers rallied to within 36-33 with 6:14 left in the game. That prompted Dix to hold back the offense and the Tigers let the Vikings dribble away three minutes.
After a series of free throws, Triston Cooper gave East Hall a 39-35 lead with two free throws with 1:04 left. The Tigers' Levi Whitmire would answer with two free throws 30 seconds later and then after Kyvon Davenport hit just 1-of-2 free throws, Whitmire drained a long 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to send it to overtime.
In the overtime, Dix again called for the slowdown and they dribbled out the first 2:20 before Antonio Maddox would hit 3-of-4 free throws and Tylor Brown hit two more in a minute span to give the Vikings a 45-41 lead.
Dawson County's Lucas Pain would pull the Tigers within 46-43 with 30 seconds left but Dawson County would miss three 3-point attempts in the final seconds before Copper iced the game with one free throw with 11.9 seconds left for the final score.
The Vikings have had trouble closing out games at times this season so Dix seemed pleased with Friday's finish.
"We found a way to win," Dix said. "We still made some bone-head plays but when we needed some plays we got them. We made some big stops at the end. We'll see if this gets us going."
Cooper finished with 12 points to lead East Hall. Davenport and Jacquen Hopkins each had nine points for the Vikings.
Whitmire finished with a game-high 16 points, 12 coming in the second half and overtime. Jackson Putnam added eight points for the Tigers.
The first half was a tight affair the entire way. East Hall led 9-8 after the first quarter as neither team led by more than two points.
The second quarter saw Dawson County retake the lead early but the Vikings would take the biggest lead of the period at 24-21 when Davenport slammed home a missed shot at the buzzer to the end the half.