Dalton High’s girls basketball team is working on earning the best seed possible for the quickly approaching Region 7-4A tournament.
Along the way, the Lady Catamounts will try to pick up as much tournament-type experience as possible.
Maddie Howell had 24 points as Dalton picked up a hard-fought 67-58 win at LaFayette on Friday, which was senior night for the Lady Ramblers.
The Lady Cats (18-6, 7-2 Sub-region 7B-4A) were ahead at the end of each quarter, although it wasn’t much distance from the Lady Ramblers, leading 17-13, 32-27 and 52-37.
Brooke Thomas added 16 points and Carson Sharp had 10 for Dalton, but LaFayette’s Tava Young and Michaela Suttles each matched Howell’s total, with Young scoring all of her points from behind the arc.
“(LaFayette) shot the ball extremely well in the second half,” Lady Cats coach Jeff McKinney said. “We would extend it out and get an 18-point lead, and then we wouldn’t score for the next three possession and they’d hit three 3-pointers. It was one of those games where we would run out and they would catch up.”
With the test passed and the Lady Cats still atop the sub-region standings, McKinney was glad for the lessons provided.
“It was good because we had to play four quarters,” he said. “We only made seven turnovers tonight, and that’s really good compared to the other night, when we made five turnovers (to start) the second half. Offensively, I was very pleased — we just didn’t do a very good job defensively.”
• Dalton boys 78, LaFayette 63: Alex Bautista’s 35 points matched a career high set earlier this season and Dalton used a strong second half to nullify a second-quarter rally by the host Ramblers.
The Cats (16-6, 6-3 Sub-region 7B-4A) led 31-18 after the first quarter — during which Bautista had 15 points — but got outscored 20-11 in the next period. However, Dalton pushed its lead to 20 points in the second half and kept LaFayette at bay.
“It was a good win on the road in a tough place to play,” Cats coach Mike Duffie said. “We came out focused after a tough loss (to Northwest Whitfield) on Tuesday ready to play the way we did, so I was pleased to see that.”
Bautista also had eight rebounds, while Demond Rucker notched a double-double with 10 points and as many rebounds and Rico Mears chipped in 13 points.
• Christian Heritage boys 81, Temple 64: Playing a non-region matchup on the road, the Lions rolled behind Cameron Locke’s big performance.
One of three Christian Heritage (7-11) players who scored in double figures, Locke finished with 27 points — including eight 3-pointers — while Will Patterson made four 3-pointers and tallied 18 points to go with eight rebounds.
Michael McKinney chipped in 14 points and Hutch Crawford had nine points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Lions.
Trevor Shell had more than half of the Tigers’ points, finishing with 36.
• Adairsville girls 43, Coahulla Creek 42: A 3-pointer just before the buzzer gave the Lady Colts a closer final score but not the result they wanted in the Region 5-3A matchup in Varnell.
“We tried to shoot it and draw the foul at the same time,” Lady Colts coach Ryan Long said. “We did make the shot.”
Taylor Ogle led the way with 15 points for Coahulla Creek (6-15, 3-9), while Hannah Locke chipped in 11.
The Lady Colts trailed at the end of each quarter break, but had closed the gap to 31-30 entering the final period.
“Our help side defense has to be better than what it was,” Long said. “But give (Adairsville) credit. They were knocking down some 3-point shots that we were just late getting out to. Hats off to them. They came out and executed with a lot of energy. We were at times just a step too late.”
• Calhoun boys 67, Murray County 43: The Indians (12-11, 7-5 Region 7-2A) were tied at 17 heading into the second quarter but trailed 34-20 at halftime.
“In the second quarter, it got to us,” Murray County coach Greg Linder said. “They came out and played very physical tonight, and we didn’t handle it. We’ll get better at that.”
The Indians were unable to bounce back, and the Yellow Jackets extended the lead to 47-30 entering the final period.
Brady Todd led Murray County with 12 points, while Martin Contreras and Jake Ice each added 10.
• Calhoun girls 59, Murray County 39: The host Lady Yellow Jackets, who are undefeated and sitting atop the Region 7-2A standings, took control early on their way to another league victory.
Holly Stanfield had a team-high 14 points and Caitlyn Sims added nine for Murray County (7-16, 4-8), which trailed 17-6, 34-15 and 52-31 at the quarter breaks.
“We just kind of came out timid there to start with,” Lady Indians coach Mich-ael Hill said. “They jumped on us and got a pretty good lead, but once we settled down we started playing a little ball. We tried to give them a little scare in second half, but Calhoun’s good.”
• Coahulla Creek did not report results from Friday’s scheduled varsity boys game against visiting Adairsville by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Northwest JV girls 43, Southeast Whitfield 17: Karli Williams led the way with nine points for the victorious Lady Bruins, while Peyton Maret chipped in eight. Southeast was led by Emily Beck’s six points.
• Dalton JV boys 46, LaFayette 44: Peter Sigmon’s 15-point effort led the way while Mark Sims added seven points and Payton Veraldi had six as the Cats (10-2) finished the season.
• Dalton JV girls 51, LaFayette 21: Mia Smith led the Lady Cats (9-4) with 11 points, while Alex Brumbelow added 10.
• Four Murray County wrestlers advanced to this morning’s semifinals in the Area 3-2A traditional tournament at the Indians’ Kenneth Ross Gymnasium.
Coach Chris Thornbury can’t help but wish the quartet had more company in the winners’ bracket.
Domingo Bautista (113 pounds), Kevin Chavez (170), Clay Thornbury (182) and Allen Roberts (285) are each one win away from a spot in the championship finals. However, because only two championship rounds were wrestled on Friday — the wrestlebacks will start off today’s action at 10 a.m., with the semifinals to follow — the Indians still have 10 other wrestlers who can score team points and fight for the top-four finish needed to qualify for next week’s sectional tournament.
“It was disappointing to me,” coach Thornbury said of the number of semifinalists for the Indians, “because I thought we would steal a couple of matches where we were the lower seed and make the semis. We had that opportunity but didn’t take advantage of it.
“... But I’m hoping we’ll show up (today) and do well.”
• Coahulla Creek and North Murray did not report results from the first day of the Area 2-3A traditional tournament at Central Carroll by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Dalton, Northwest and Southeast did not report results from the first day of the Area 7-4A traditional tournament at Gilmer by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.