The Cinderella run came to an end for Franklin County (15-14) at the Ford Phillips Center on Wednesday night, as the Dawson County Tigers (27-4) came up with just enough in a 60-58 win to advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history.
Franklin was an At-Large addition to the bracket and stormed into the quarterfinals, but the duo of Luke Chism and Jasper Gibson was too much to overcome. Chism dropped a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, adding 5 blocks and 4 assists. Gibson closed with 15 points and 3 assists.
The Tigers have continued to peak at the perfect time, and really hit another gear in the Region 7-AAA tournament, which concluded with a huge win over #1-ranked GAC.
The first couple of state playoff games have been cakewalks for the high-octane Tigers, as they took down Ringgold 58-27 in the opener and Westminster 62-40 in the Sweet 16.
This one was a bit tougher, and required Dawson to storm back from double digits. Franklin opened up the game on a 14-4 run and led 22-10 after the first quarter.
The home team opened the second on a 7-0 run to close within 22-17, and saw huge play from senior Ahmad Kamara, who used his athleticism to keep the Tigers in it.
By the third quarter, Chism began to go to work, as the Tigers pulled within 32-30 around the six minute mark of the third. Tate Adkins’ 3-pointer tied the game at 35 late in the quarter, which ended with Dawson up 44-41.
Chism and the Tigers did well to go up 55-44 with just three minutes to go in the fourth, but struggles at the free throw line allowed Franklin new life. With 30 seconds to go, the Tigers saw their lead shrink to 56-54. Gibson closed the game out with a pair of free throws, which proved a difference maker as Franklin County hit a buzzer-beater to close the game at 60-58.
The Tigers now take on another “Cinderella” team in #3-seed Hart County in the State Final Four on March 2 at Georgia Southern at 8 PM. On the other side of the 3A bracket, Morgan County, who previously beat #1-ranked GAC, takes on Windsor Forrest at 4 PM on March 2, also at Georgia Southern.