DAWSONVILLE — The state tournament is not a good place to have an off night offensively.
That's exactly what happened to the Dawson County boys as they fell to Salem, 64-41, in the second round of the Class 3A tournament at the Ford Phillips Center.
"We had a hard time putting it in the basket tonight," Dawson County coach Todd Cottrell said. "Even free throws, we didn't shoot those real well. Those were timely misses. If we make those, we put a little pressure on them. We just never could make the shots when we needed to."
Regardless of the free throw misses, the story of the night was shooting from the field, especially from 20 feet. Dawson County only hit three from behind the 3-point arc and went five consecutive trips without a basket to fall behind, 30-11, with just over five minutes to play in the first half.
The Tigers failed to score on nine of its 14 possessions (four turnovers) in the second quarter, including five missed 3-pointers. The rough first half contributed to a 36-20 deficit by halftime.
Salem's Javen Flowers-Smith didn't make it easy for the Tigers. His quickness was tough to guard, scoring 27 points, 16 in the first half.
"We knew he was their go-to guy," Cottrell said. "We let him get comfortable early, and he got to the free throw line and saw it go in. We never could slow him down. I thought we had it going in the third quarter because he got a little frustrated when we were making a run, and it was getting loud. We just couldn't make one more play to get it closer."
The Tigers opened the third quarter on a 7-3 run and cut the lead to 13 points with baskets from Max Tierney and Joakeim Celestin, 39-27, with 5:33 to go. Celestin's dribble-drive layup cut the lead to 10 points on their next possession, 39-29.
But Salem took advantage of the Tigers' poor shooting thanks to back-to-back scores from Jarrod Taylor to stop the run and extend the lead, 43-29.
The Tigers, however, only trailed 47-34 after the third quarter, and had opportunities in the final eight minutes, but went scoreless on their first five trips, including five 3-point misses, to fall behind 56-34 on a Taylor basket.
Salem's defense held Dawson County's Jake Craft to just six points, two 3-pointers, Max Tierney led the Tigers with 11 points, while Joakeim Celestin added 10 points. Jaden Gibson finished with nine points.
"Our effort was there. I thought we had a great attitude, but sometimes that's just basketball," Cottrell said. "We got to take care of the ball, make free throws and layups, and we didn't do a very good job of that at all. That's disappointing."