The Pickens Dragons traveled to Dalton for the Region 7AAAA Tournament Wednesday night to take on the Bruins of Northwest Whitfield. The Dragons were outmanned and undersized against the Bruins, who advanced to the semifinals with a win over Pickens, 82-59.
The Bruins jumped out to an early lead on Pickens, working the ball inside to their big man who was noticeably bigger than the Dragons’ big man. Jacob Stephens scored the first basket of the night for the Dragons. NW Whitfield brought the heat with a full court press, and Pickens couldn’t find a way to advance the ball. A fast break basket for the Bruins led to a timeout for Pickens, as they trailed 11-2 at the 4:36 mark. Overcommitting on passes was leaving a clear path for Bruins players to the basket, and the game looked to be getting out of control early. But Dalton Bruce hit a shot and was fouled. He hit his free throw, and Dylan Curry hit two free throws after a technical foul was issued to Northwest. The Bruins tacked on six more points to end the quarter, giving them a 24-9 lead over the Dragons.
The 2nd quarter starts with a frustrated Pickens coach; the Bruins are in a very fast zone keeping the Dragons from running their plays. NW Whitfield is crashing the boards and getting second opportunities on missed baskets, and the turnovers were piling up for PHS. With three minutes left in the half, the Dragons gather four straight offensive rebounds on one possession before Curry finally draws a foul. He hits both free throws to bring the game to a 41-15 score. A bright spot for the PHS Boys came right before the break, when Clay Wigington sent a shot back where it came from. The big block set up the Dragons’ last points of the half. Pickens was still trailing 52-25.
The Bruins started the 3rd quarter with the ball and wasted no time working back to their big man to get points. NW Whitfield went on a 17-7 scoring run to give them a 69-32 lead, and this brought a whole new set of players onto the court. One would think that things would start to open up for the Dragons now, but this Bruin team had a lot of depth. Stephens didn’t care though, as he went on a scoring run of his own, hitting back-to-back threes to close the gap. Pickens trailed 71-43 going into the 4th and final quarter.
The quarter started out even, with both teams trading baskets. The Bruin coach brought in the young guys, who looked almost as good as the starters. They rode the adrenaline of getting to play and scored a string of points, but Pickens torched them when Tyjai Howell came through with an “and one” play. The strong play from the Dragons at the end wasn’t enough to overcome the hole they were in however, and their season ended with a loss to the number one seeded Bruins.
The leading scorers for the Dragons were Stephens with 17 points, Curry with 15, and the rest of the scorers chipped in between two and six points each.