GAINESVILLE – Dawson County’s Jasper Gibson was hard to stop Saturday night in the Region 7-3A championship game.
The junior guard scored 39 points, 18 from the 3-point line, to lead the third-ranked Tigers (24-4) past No. 1-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian 86-76 and win their first region championship since 2012.
"I think everybody is tired of losing to them (GAC)," Dawson coach Chad Pittman said. "I've been here three years, so really we weren't 0-2, we were 0-7. Well, this even makes it sweeter and it couldn't have been better during the region championship. So I'm really proud of the kids."
The Tigers broke the seven-year region title drought in an epic way and held Tulane-commit Hunter McIntosh to just 19 points.
Nevertheless, it took Gibson a full 8 minutes to warm up – he had two free throws in the opening period. After that, Gibson couldn't miss for the next two quarters. He fired in 35 points – 15 in the second, 20 in the third – to give Dawson its first lead 45-43 with 6:16 to go in the third.
"It felt good," Gibson said. "I feel like it's something that we've been working toward for a long time. Ever since we all got up here together, that's been our goal. That was our goal as a team."
Trading baskets over the next two minutes, Ahmad Kamara scored, then Tate Adkins chipped in a bucket to push the Tigers' lead up five, 53-48 with 3:43. After that, the Tigers never relinquished control of the lead, extending it to 10 points, 84-74, off free throws from Campbell Reed, Gibson and Kamara.
"I told the guys let's just make sure we finish all the way to zero, zero, zero," Pittman said. "But, yeah, of course we all felt good. The guys wanted to celebrate – I wanted them to have the opportunity to celebrate their success. I mean, this year hadn't been easy. We've played a pretty rigorous schedule. Our last month wasn't easy. To top it off with this, this is definitely a huge goal that we've been able to accomplish. Now, we just want to continue the momentum into the state tournament."
Eli Burruss poured in 14 points and Campbell Reed had 9 in the win. Luke Chism finished with 9 points and Kamara had 7
"When you play them, it's a war," Pittman said. "We left everything out on the line tonight. They played their guts out tonight. We made a couple adjustments and kids responded really well. I didn't get one rebound or one point – everybody did a great. I just couldn't be more proud."
Dawson County will host Region 6-3A No. 4 seed Ringgold in the first round of the Class 3A tournament on Saturday.
"Just trying to plan ahead, scout, make adjustments and be ready," Pittman said. "It'll take all we got. Class 3A is about as deep as any league. Every night from here on out you're going to have to play to continue.
EAST HALL 83
LUMPKIN COUNTY 81
East Hall’s Imre Earls nailed a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to beat Lumpkin County in the third-place game in the Region 7-3A tournament at North Hall Saturday night.
Gus Faulkner’s free throw with 11.3 seconds left gave Lumpkin (8-20) an 81-80 lead but gave East Hall the ball back.
The Vikings (13-14) missed the shot with time running down. That’s when Earls was quickly passed the ball in the corner for the shot. Earls finished the night with 7 points. TJ Campbell led the Vikings with 19 points and Kylan Curry and Mon Prather had 12 each.
Matt Seabolt turned in a career-night for the Indians, scoring 31 points, including 21 in the second half. Seabolt was the key to the Indians’ rally, who trailed at the half, 41-28. But, the second half was all Indians until the final 11.7 seconds. Lumpkin outscored East Hall 53-42 in the second half.
Jake Granger finished the night with 16 points for the Indians. Peyton Polk tossed in 13 and Kyle Trammell had 12.