The Pickens High School Dragons basketball team traveled to Blue Ridge for the annual Tip-Off Tournament. The Dragons got things started on Saturday in the “Round Robin” style tournament, facing the winner of the last two tournaments, the Gilmer Bobcats.
Gilmer won the tip and took an early lead starting the game on a 9-1 run. The Bobcats’ full court press was really a problem for the Dragons early on, leading to picked off Pickens’ passes and turnovers. Pickens took a timeout to figure things out.
The Dragons did just that, outscoring the Bobcats the rest of the quarter. Leading the charge for the Dragons was Wesley Sparks and Tanner Brumby, as both were able to connect on shots and hit their free throws. Pickens was headed into the second quarter trailing 16-11.
The second quarter was filled with opportunities for the Dragons. Less than two minutes into the quarter, the Pickens was able to force Gilmer’s leader out of the game, with foul trouble. This took a chunk of Gilmer’s offense off the court, but Pickens was unable to cut into the lead.
Turnovers hindered the performance, as did allowing too many second chance points by the Bobcats. The Dragons was outscored 15-8 in the second quarter and found itself down 31-19 at halftime.
An optimistic Dragons team took the court to start the third quarter. Clay Wigington worked hard in the paint, grabbing two offensive rebounds and finally drawing the foul. He knocked down his free throws, and Shannon Brooks followed with an offensive board, two-point basket, and free throws of his own.
The Dragons got as close as 11 in the third quarter, but the Bobcats up-tempo style of play catapulted Gilmer back ahead to a 48-32 lead at the end of the quarter.
Tyler Urlaub and Brumby stepped up in the final quarter to make an attempt at a comeback. Their efforts fell short though as the Bobcats kept stealing the ball and making shots.
The Dragons would drop the tournament opener 63-46 and looked to rebound against the host team, the Fannin Rebels in Pickens’ second game of the tournament.
The Rebels lost to the Copper Basin Cougars the previous night, so both teams were eager to get a win.
Pickens was able to take an early lead and maintain it throughout the contest. The athleticism and size of the Dragons was too much for the Rebels to handle, not to mention the depth.
The Dragons had 11 contributors to their offense on Monday night, four of which contributed in big ways. Wigington finished the night with 17 points, Brumby had 11, Dylan Curry had 11, and Brooks poured in 9. This, paired with a great defensive effort, is what led the Dragons to a 65-41 victory.
Pickens was pitted against the Copper Basin Cougars in the third and final game of the tournament. Both teams were 1-1, combined with Gilmer winning its game, a victory in this matchup would lead to a second place trophy.
Pickens came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. After Brumby converted on a three-point play, the Dragons was on top 9-0 with just 2:27 left in the first quarter. Although the Cougars closed the quarter on an 8-2 run, the Dragons would still lead 11-8 at the close of the first quarter.
A Copper Basin three pointer started the second quarter and the game was tied up at 11. This prompted a 10-2 run by the Dragons, giving Pickens a clear advantage once again. However, just as before, the Cougars mounted a small comeback effort to close out the quarter. At halftime, the Dragons led 25-20.
A Cougar steal and layup got things close at the start of the third quarter. The Dragons’ athleticism really started to show midway through the third quarter. The Pickens players were outrebounding and outrunning the Cougars, and easily finding themselves open.
Jacob Stephens seemingly could not miss from beyond the arc. If not for a couple of long shots by Copper Basin, it would have been far worse than the 46-33 score at the end of the third quarter.
In a game that looked to be over, Copper Basin had other plans. Three straight shots from long range cut the Dragon lead down to six, 48-42, just minutes into the final quarter.
The game stayed close throughout, with Basin getting opportunities to tie it or take the lead but the Cougars could never do it. The game got as close as three points, but the fouls at the end of the game gave Pickens a 54-49 victory over the Cougars. With the win, the Dragons took second place in the tournament.
The Dragons will host Lumpkin County on Tuesday December 3rd.