Posted: Saturday, March 2nd 2013 at 11:57pm
MACON-BOUND: Dawson County girls advance to first title game since '91
By Morgan Lee Editor
Dawson County's Sheyenne Seabolt, left, looks for shooting room against the Southwest Macon defense on Saturday in the Class AAA semifinals in Savannah. The Lady Tigers won to advance to next week's championship game in Macon.
SAVANNAH -- On Tuesday, the Dawson County girls basketball team opened its state quarterfinal contest looking as though it wondered if it belonged.
By Saturday, the Lady Tigers looked like grizzled postseason veterans.
Carrying over the momentum from Tuesday’s strong finish, Dawson County opened its Class AAA semifinal on fire and closed just as strong, stiff-arming Southwest Macon 66-50 in Savannah.
“This team really has focused on fixing what happened the game before, and we talked a lot about last week’s start,” Dawson County coach Steve Sweat said. “We didn’t need to start off with a big deficit.”
Thanks to Carly Gilreath, there was never any chance of that.
The senior guard drained two 3-pointers to start the contest, and the Lady Tigers never trailed, taking complete control in the second half en route to their first state championship appearance since 1991.
“I don’t think we’ve ever won a state title,” Sweat said. “We hope we can’t say that anymore after next week.”
Dawson County (27-5) will face St. Pius on March 9 in Macon after the Lady Golden Lions defeated Chapel Hill 59-51 on Saturday in Savannah.
The Lady Tigers would love another performance next week like they got from Gilreath and Sheyenne Seabolt on Saturday.
Seabolt put up a game-high 27 points and ripped down 14 rebounds, while Gilreath scored 24.
“What a good 1-2 combination to have, and we’re blessed that one’s inside, one’s outside,” Sweat said. “If one gets going it frees up the other one and makes us that much harder to defend.”
Gilreath’s long-range shooting gave Seabolt more freedom inside against a sizable Southwest Macon frontcourt -- though Seabolt also drained one of the Lady Tigers’ nine 3-pointers on the night.
“I know we like to dump it down inside, but I told the girls we have to shoot, because we have to open things up in there,” Sweat said.
Dawson County came out shooting, Gilreath draining two 3-pointers inside the opening minute, as the Lady Tigers ran out to an 8-2 lead. Yet Southwest Macon battled back inside, as Emily Pennimon dropped three straight lay-ups to knot the score at 8-8.
The Lady Tigers answered the charge with 7-0 push, however, and pulled ahead 19-12 at the end of the quarter, as Seabolt sank another 3-pointer.
Southwest Macon maintained its inside determination in the second quarter and scrapped its way back into contention, Deaundra Stubbs and Shakeyna Peters each hitting lay-ups to help Southwest claw within 30-29 at the half.
The Lady Tigers came out firing in the third quarter, however, Seabolt, Kacie Bearden, Hannah Porter and Carly Gilreath each nailing 3-pointers to spark an 11-2 run that yielded a 41-31 lead. Southwest’s Kayla Waters drilled a 3-pointer of her own, but Dawson County answered immediately through Seabolt’s three-point play for a 44-34 lead.
The Lady Tigers continued to push their advantage at the start of the fourth quarter, as Seabolt and Gilreath took turns scoring, opening up a 10-3 run midway through the period for a 59-43 advantage. The Lady Tigers cruised from there, as a berth in Macon drew onto the horizon.
“I knew if we could keep the pressure on them after that start to the third quarter we would have a good chance,” Sweat said. “We got into the fourth quarter with a lead, and that’s when teams start to tire, and I think that’s what happened to them.”
“They’re all extremely excited,” said Sweat, who received a postgame ice-water bath from his players in the locker room. “We’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us.”
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