BUFORD -- Dawson County girls coach Steve Sweat has been wanting to add to his T-shirt collection.
After Saturday's 57-40 win over Fannin County in the quarterfinals of the Region 7-AAA Tournament, he can finally do it. The win moved the Lady Tigers (18-8) into the state tournament for the second consecutive season.
"We've been wanting to get a 'back-to-back' T-shirt made and now we can," Sweat said. "It's a sweet feeling."
Dawson County will have a tough semifinal matchup taking on region regular-season champ Buford, which beat West Hall 37-24 in the other quarterfinal matchup Saturday at the Buford gym.
"We'll enjoy this for a day and then get ready to see if we can knock them off," Sweat said. "They are tough but I thought we played them pretty well the first time so we'll see."
The Lady Tigers led the entire game. They opened with a 6-0 run and extended it to 13-4 midway through the first quarter, powered by 10 points and an assist from Sheyenne Seabolt in the first four minutes. They also hit 3-of-4 3-pointers in the first four minutes.
Fannin County would fight back closing to within one point three times before tying the game at 21 on a McKenzey Ryder free throw with 5:51 left in thye half. But Dawson County used a 5-0 run to retake control and would lead 28-25 at halftime.
The Lady Tigers blew the game open in the third quarter with a 10-0 run to begin the half. The Lady Rebels (13-13) would answer with a 7-0 run to cut it to 38-32 but Dawson County exploded for a 15-2 run over the next 6:34 of the second half.
It was the Lady Tigers' defense that was the key forcing 27 Fannin County turnovers for the game.
"Coming off the snow break or whatever you want to call it, I thought we played pretty well," Sweat said. "I thought we really played well on defense."
Dawson County had 23 turnovers for the game but in its two big runs turned it over just twice. After the initial 3-point barrage, the Lady Tigers went 0-for-7 on 3-pointers the rest of the way. Fannin County was just 1-for-10 on 3-pointers.
Dawson County had a big advantage at the free throw line going 19-for-29 for the game while Fannin County was just 13-for-18 from the line.
Seabolt finished with 18 points, five rebounds, and two assists to lead Dawson County before fouling out. Ashley Parker added 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists, and Karlie Bearden had 11 points, five rebounds, and two assists for the Lady Tigers.
Molly Chandler and Hope Cochran each had 11 points to pace Fannin County. Cochran added eight rebounds and three assists for the Lady Rebels.
BUFORD BOYS 68,
FANNIN COUNTY 22
D'Marcus Simonds drained a long 3-pointer 10 seconds into the game to start the rout as the host Wolves advanced to the Class AAA state playoffs with a big win the Region 7-AAA quarterfinals.
It was the 15th straight win for Buford (21-5), which will take on the White County-Banks County winner Monday at 8:30 p.m. at Buford in the region semifinals.
Defense was the key for Buford holding the Rebels to single-digit scoring in every quarter.
The Wolves opened the game with a 9-1 run and used a 12-0 run to eventually take a 25-4 lead after the first quarter. They led 38-12 at halftime. They had nine steals in the first half.
The Wolves used a 17-6 third quarter to put the game out of reach and invoke a six-minute clock in the fourth quarter.
Keyton Gibson paced Buford with 14 points as 12 different players scored. Simonds finished with 13 points and Isaac Nauta added nine for the Wolves.
Christian Stepp led Fannin County with five points.
BUFORD GIRLS 37,
WEST HALL 24
Buford used a 14-0 run in the second and third quarters to pull away from West Hall in a closer-than-the-score-indicated win in the quarterfinals of the 7-AAA tournament.
The win moved the Lady Wolves into Monday's semifinals against Dawson County.
Buford's big run gave the Lady Wolves a 26-11 lead, their biggest of the game, midway through the third quarter. West Hall managed to cut the lead to 36-24 with 3:30 left in the game and the Lady Spartans held Buford to just two free throws in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Wolves defense was just too much for West Hall, however, forcing nearly two dozen turnovers and holding the Lady Spartans to just five points in the fourth quarter.
West Hall came out strong to open the first quarter taking a quick 5-0 lead after a Jensen Hall 3-pointer 40 seconds into the game. But the Buford defense began to exert itself.
The Lady Wolves' press caused trouble for the Lady Spartans. After both teams traded turnovers, Buford forced three consecutive West Hall miscues that would give the Lady Wolves a 7-5 lead following a pair of Bree Horrocks baskets.
Buford would push its lead to 12-7 after another Horrocks basket, but West Hall answered with four straight points by Mia McKensey to pull within 12-11. The Wolves would take control holding West Hall scoreless over the final 5:00 of the half while closing the half with a 9-0 run, capped by another Horrocks basket.
Horrocks paced Buford with 17 points and eight rebounds.
McKensey and Maia Booker each had eight points to lead West Hall.