Winning is a habit at Dawson County for the Lady Tigers basketball program. Since the state title game run in 2012-13, the girls and coach Steve Sweat have never been held out of the playoffs (six straight trips). Sweat entered his 12th consecutive season (2nd stint overall) at Dawson with 531 career wins (now sitting at 538).
At 7-3 overall and 3-1 in region play heading into Friday’s game against Pickens County, the Lady Tigers, who are state-ranked as high as #5 in some polls, set out to be a bit better than they currently are.
“We’re winning more than we’re losing,” says Sweat half-jokingly. “I’d rather say we haven’t lost one yet…but we’re pleased.”
Nevertheless, the girls have done very well, led by senior Kaylee Sticker, a do-it-all player who stretches the floor. Sticker is a Clemson-signee.
“Bottom line, I’m just glad she’s on my team,” says Sweat about his senior all-state player. “Having talent is one thing…we hear a lot about this ‘potential’ stuff. With her, the potential and talent are there and she’s put it to good use. She’s a special kid, smart, does well in the classroom. She’s hard to forget, and I say that as a compliment by every means of it.”
For Sticker and the team, they play night in and night out in what arguably is the state’s toughest region, with state-ranked opponents on the slate like GAC, Lumpkin County, and North Hall, among others.
“If you don’t play good, you’re going to get beat,” says Sweat. “I think that’s a great thing…I think that’s a testament to what kind of basketball we play up here in Northeast Georgia.”
After starting out 3-0 on the season, the girls dropped a pair to Flowery Branch and Banks County before rebounding with another three-game win streak. North Hall then earned a 3-point win on December 14, but the Lady Tigers won an overtime thriller over Lumpkin on December 18 to bounce back.
“Definitely the North Hall game,” says Sticker on which game she’d like to have back. “We needed to keep our confidence up, but we didn’t…we’re a young team, but we’re helping the young ones learned and we’re just excited for the rest of the season.”
The Lady Tigers since the 2012-13 season have made the playoffs six straight times, including the title game run (’12-13), two Elite 8 runs (’14-15 & ’16-17), two Sweet 16 trips (’13-14 & ’15-16), and last year’s first round exit. In these last six-plus seasons, the Lady Tigers have been state ranked as high as #1 and have compiled 134 wins in that span to date.