GARRETT — Brandi Dawson can do a lot on the basketball court. The Garrett junior can drive from the baseline. She can hit a jumper from the outside. She can create a turnover and run the entire length of the court and make the layup while getting fouled. Sometimes, she even misses a jumper but gets her own rebound for the putback.
All of this was on display as Tuesday night as Dawson scored 21 points and had seven rebounds to lead Garrett (10-4) in its 42-29 victory over Southern Wells (10-3) in the first round of the girls ACAC Tournament at Garrett.
“I knew I had to step-up my game, and I just kept staying aggressive and drove-in and tried to get as many points as I could to help the team,” Dawson said.
Dawson's ability was evident in the way Southern Wells played defense. It opened the game with a box-and-one zone, with the one person trailing Dawson around the court. Early on it worked, as Dawson struggled to find an open shot.
Then in the third quarter she took over and so did Garrett.
After Southern Wells scored the first four points of the second half to pull within three points, Garrett went on a 14-0 run, including eight points from Dawson, to take a commanding 17-point lead.
“I think we all see her as a bigger key for us than she does I think,” Garrett head coach Bob Lapadot said. “Sometimes I have to get on her to be more aggressive and take more shots, and I think the second half she turned up the level of intensity and got in the passing lanes.”
As much as Dawson was strong offensively to help the Railroaders, the team's defense shut down Southern Wells in the middle quarters.
At the end of the first quarter Garrett held a 1-point lead, but then it started to create turnovers and stop Southern Wells from getting the ball inside off its motion and cuts. In the second and third quarter combined, Southern Wells was held to seven points.
“We turned the ball over a few times and just on the offensive end, the whole night, we were sloppy and sluggish,” Southern Wells head coach John Fauts said. “There's nothing magical either team was doing, nothing different than what they were doing (at the beginning of the game).”
Garrett now plays Heritage in the semifinals Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at War Memorial Coliseum.
“We haven't been to the Coliseum before as a group, hopefully we can get those jitters out right away,” Lapadot said. “But you're playing for a spot in the championship game. You're going to have to make free throws and play defense. That's what I keep telling them, free throws and defense and we'll be alright.”
Adams Central plays Leo in the other ACAC girl's semifinal game at 6 p.m. Thursday.