Emier Bowman had a rough night scoring and Dalton High School’s boys basketball team made just one 3-pointer. But Lyle Durham picked up the slack in what was easily his best game of the year.
The same could be said for the Lady Catamounts, who helped set up a sweep of Heritage-Catoosa on Tuesday night at the Cats Den.
Durham, a senior post, scored 22 points in a 62-51 win, and the Dalton girls won 74-64 to avenge a 25-point loss to the Lady Generals earlier this season and earn their first Sub-region 7B-4A victory.
“Two things saved us tonight — free-throw shooting and Lyle Durham,” Dalton coach Mike Duffie said.
“Lyle is not supposed to score 22 points because our offense is not designed that way. Lyle is supposed to be a rebounder and open things up for others. For him to pull down 22 points and go 6 of 9 from the (free throw) line, he saved us tonight.”
The Cats (12-5, 4-1 7B-4A) went 15 of 22 from the foul line and their defense forced 22 turnovers. Durham gave credit to that defense and his teammates for what he called his “lifetime high score.”
“I just try to do my job, and the rest of the guys did a good job of finding me when I was open and getting me the ball,” Durham said. “Sometimes we can knock down 3-pointers from all over the floor and score tons of points, and sometimes we have a down night. You just have to find it within yourself to find a way to win when one part isn’t working. Our defense did that tonight.”
Heritage (10-10, 2-3) struggled at the line, going 12-for-21, but Generals coach Kevin Terry was more disappointed with the easy baskets Dalton was able to get when forcing turnovers.
“Too many easy baskets on our mistakes was the big difference for us,” Terry said. “Their defense created a lot of points for them tonight, and we couldn’t keep up with that.”
While Bowman — typically Dalton’s leading scorer — had just nine points, he made up for it in other ways with 14 rebounds, six assists and six blocks. Braxton Thomas added 19 points for the Cats, who allowed just six offensive rebounds for Heritage, which was led by Cody Sanders’ game-high 26 points.
• Dalton girls 74, Heritage 64: In the first sub-region game for both teams on Jan. 3, Heritage beat Dalton 73-48 in Ringgold. A change of venue and an improving Lady Cats team gave Dalton a 35-point swing.
Both teams came out determined to force the tempo of the game, and Dalton trailed 22-21 at the end of the first quarter. But when faced with the Heritage pressure in the first half, the Lady Cats were able to avoid many of the turnovers and mistakes that have plagued the team this season.
“We have been trying to get back to the basics, and we want to play aggressively and always play hard,” Dalton coach Lacie Coquerille said. “We did both of those things tonight, and until some turnovers in the fourth quarter, I felt like we took care of the ball when they brought pressure.”
Behind a game-high 27 points from junior guard Sarah Hartshorn, Dalton (7-10, 1-4) never trailed in the second half. Heritage never got closer than four in the fourth quarter.
While it was Dalton’s first win in the sub-region, it was the first sub-region loss for the Lady Generals. Heritage (16-4, 4-1) hosts first-place Northwest Whitfield on Friday in Ringgold.
“For all of the girls, I think getting that first sub-region win was starting to feel like a burden to them,” Coquerille said. “I am glad they were able to get that relief.”
Hartshorn said the win was validation that her team is getting better.
“We have been putting in so much work and to finally come together as a team is a great feeling,” she said. “To show how hard we have worked and get a win is like no other feeling.”
Bowen Land finished with 15 for Dalton, while Hannah Cox scored 14. Alex Belk led the Lady Generals with 18.