With Braxton Thomas rolling, Dalton High School’s boys basketball team had little trouble scoring points.
Southeast Whitfield’s offense kept up for a quarter — until Emier Bowman’s defense arrived.
Thomas scored 31 points, Dalton outscored Southeast by 27 points in the middle quarters and the Catamounts won 88-60 in the Sub-region 7B-4A contest at Southeast. In the girls game, the Lady Raiders kept Dalton winless in league play with a 52-37 victory.
Dalton’s boys (11-5, 3-1) led 18-13 late in the first quarter, but Josh Hester’s three-point play and Rhett Harper’s layup tied the game. Thomas’ jumper gave him 13 points for the period and Dalton a 20-18 lead at its close. Thomas didn’t stop scoring, either, hitting a 3-pointer to begin the second quarter.
“Coach (Mike) Duffie wants me to be aggressive and take the ball to the hole,” said Thomas, who also finished with 10 rebounds and seven steals. “He knows if I have a mismatch I can take it.”
Then Dalton’s full-court press began making the night tough for Southeast (4-13, 1-3). Jordon McKinney followed Thomas’ shot with a steal and layup for a 25-18 Dalton advantage. Later in the quarter, Bowman had back-to-back steals and layups to put the Catamounts ahead 35-21. That difference held as Dalton was on top 43-29 at halftime.
Thomas entered the break with 23 points.
Southeast coach James Case was an assistant at Dalton for 11 seasons and knew the Cats’ style intended for a full-court game and abundance of pressure.
“They scramble around and relentlessly go after you,” said Case, Duffie’s assistant for seven years. “... That’s what coach Duffie does and those kids are good in that system.”
Dalton started the third quarter with another 13-2 run highlighted at the 4:58 mark by Bowman’s steal and near dunk that was prevented by Rhett Harper’s intentional foul. Bowman made both free throws for a 54-31 lead.
“The combination of Emier’s defense and Braxton’s offense got us the lead,” Duffie said. “In the third quarter, our defense held them to just nine points.”