DALTON, Ga. — The Dalton basketball Catamounts are a little territorial, and Friday night that meant bad news for visiting LaFayette. The Cats also were still simmering from a 21-point beatdown the Ramblers had handed them a couple of weeks earlier.
Thus motivated, Dalton used its superior depth and relentless pressure to avenge the ugly loss, 71-62. The win keeps the Catamounts (15-4, 6-1) in first place in subregion 7B-AAAA with one hectic week remaining in the regular season, while the Ramblers (14-7, 4-3) are still alive for the top two spots.
"We don't like to lose at home, and we remembered what they did to us last time," said Dalton coach Mike Duffie, whose team was 1-for-23 from 3-point range in the previous meeting. "We knew in the first half we were swapping baskets, but we felt our depth could wear them down, and that's what happened in the second half. In the middle of the third quarter is when it showed up. Our depth hurt them and our guard play was strong."
Dalton guards Jeffrey Brown, Braxton Thomas and reserve Mike Sims hounded the Ramblers all game and combined for 11 steals and helped cause 20 LaFayette turnovers. The visitors were behind only three points at halftime, though, and made it a two-point game halfway through the third period when things began to fall apart for them.
Thomas hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-0 Dalton run. Brown followed with a steal and layup and a pair of free throws before Thomas finished the spurt with two more freebies as the Ramblers began showing signs of wearing down. A Brown 3-pointer and a Lyle Durham putback pushed the Cats' lead to 13 entering the final period, and the Ramblers could get no closer than seven late in the game.
"After the first game we knew they would come out here tonight and come after us," LaFayette coach Hank Peppers said. "We weathered the storm early, but in the second half we just couldn't buy a shot. I thought our effort was good, but you have to be able to score. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw them again in the region tournament."
Emier Bowman, who earned high praise from Duffie for his play inside, led Dalton with 19 points and 15 rebounds, with Thomas adding 16 points, Chris Childs 12 and Brown 11. Lance Estus led LaFayette with 20 points and 15 rebounds, with Kyle Bloodworth scoring 16 points and Tyler Shropshire 14.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...