The Gilmer Bobcats looked to continue their great play in the semifinals of the Region 7AAAA tournament on Friday night as they took on the Catamounts of Dalton High School. It was a game of runs for both teams, but in the end the Catamounts came out on top of the cat fight, 66-62.The 1st quarter got underway when Dalton won the tipoff. A minute into the game, Dalton draws first blood with a two point basket. After building a two-possession lead, the Cats score their first bucket of the game on a give and go to Connor Webber. Gilmer’s next scoring play was a similar play except to the cutting Joe Bob Charles who had an easy lay-in. A Corey Waters block ignited the crowd and the players and led to an easy basket in transition. After more fast break baskets for the Cats, Dalton caught a break when they were fouled by Will Marshall. They proceeded to hit the pair of free throws. The Catamount defense picked up their intensity and kept the Bobcats from running their plays. This created turnovers which turned into fouls for Gilmer, and Dalton converted their free throws to tie the game at 12 points each. With 1:23 left in the quarter, the Catamounts hit a three which was answered by a Webber two. Dalton then hit another three-pointer to end the quarter, giving them an 18-14 lead.
Dalton started the 2nd quarter out with the same defensive intensity they found halfway through the previous quarter. Their zone defense was moving quickly, making it difficult for Gilmer to run their motion offense and causing a lot of tough shots to be taken. Dalton goes on an 8-0 run, and Coach Hice calls a thirty-second timeout to stop the bleeding. After the timeout, Waters hit a long two to open Gilmer’s 8-2 run. This was followed by a Dalton 13-6 run, capped off by a three-point buzzer beater. The halftime score still had the Cats trailing 38-26.
The 3rd quarter started out quickly for Gilmer, when Charles hit Marshall for a two-point basket. Charles made his way back down the court, side-stepped around a defender, and laid it in with his left hand. Wheeler Lancey hit a big three-pointer at the 6:24 mark to give Gilmer a 7-0 run to start the half. The Cats pulled to within four points, but with Marshall sidelined with three fouls, the Catamounts were pulling offensive rebounds on nearly every trip down the court. Charles hit a three-pointer to get it close, but another offensive board for Dalton gave them another successful basket at the buzzer, making the score 49-44 heading into the final quarter.
Lancey hit another one of his clutch three’s to start the quarter. At the 6:06 mark, Charles hit his second three of the night to tie the game at 51 points. Charles tied the game again when he hit two free throws to bring the score to 53 points. The Catamount offense found its rhythm once again going on a 7-0 run to make the score 60-53 with only 3:42 left in the game. Marshall, Lancey, and Charles all chipped in baskets to cut the deficit to four points. Coach Hice called a timeout after a Dalton turnover, trailing 64-60 with 1:47 left. Coming out of the timeout, the Cats created a turnover in the full court press and scored a quick two-pointer getting within two points. Charles had a new shadow following him everywhere, making it nearly impossible for him touch the ball. Sitting at only two fouls with less than thirty seconds to go, it took a lot of time off the clock to get the opponents to the charity stripe, so the game ended with a 66-62 score.
Although Gilmer lost, they still have a chance to be the #3 seed from the region. The game that decides this will be Saturday at 4:30 at Dalton High School. Charles led the Cats in scoring with 26 points, followed by Lancey with 11, and Webber with 10.