Dalton High School's boys basketball team had the ball and a five-point lead with less than a half-minute to go against visiting McMinn County (Athens, Tennessee) on Monday, but McMinn shocked the Catamounts with seven points in the final 20 seconds to escape Dalton with an improbable 66-64 win.
After a missed Dalton (5-3, 2-1 Region 5-6A) shot, McMinn County (4-2) hustled down the floor and hit a 3-pointer with 18.3 left to cut Dalton's lead to 64-62. A steal on the inbounds pass and a layup tied the game, then the visitors got another steal on the ensuing Dalton possession. Jalan James was fouled on a 3-point shot with just 2.1 seconds left and made two to put Dalton behind by two.
A heave down the floor out of a timeout found Dalton's Franklin Almonte, but his potential game-tying shot at the buzzer was no good.
After an early deficit, the Catamounts appeared to be ready to break away during the middle quarters, but McMinn would keep the game close enough to allow for their late heroics.
Dalton trailed 15-14 after the first quarter, but the Cats got some steals and quick scores of their own in the second, getting out to a 31-24 lead at halftime.
McMinn was right back in the third quarter though, scoring the first eight straight out of the locker room to regain the lead. Dalton seized back a 52-48 lead by the end of the third, but couldn't pull away in the fourth despite the efforts of Almonte and company.
Almonte scored 16 to lead Dalton, while Ashton Blackwell led the Catamounts with 19 points. Anthony Davis also scored 12.
Monday's game was the final one prior to a holiday break for Dalton. They'll return to play on Jan. 2 at 4:30 p.m. at Northwest Whitfield.
Christian Heritage 74, Model 57
Christian Heritage (6-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season with a victory over Model (4-2) Monday night.
The Lions responded after falling to Hamilton Heights Christian Academy 58-54 Friday.
Jax Abernathy led the way for Christian Heritage with 22 points and six assists, while Nash Bingham hit 14 of his 16 free throws on his way to 21 points. Zundra Jackson scored 13.
Christian Heritage plays Chattanooga Central in a Christmas tournament at Christian Heritage at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Northwest Whitfield 57, Murray County 47
Northwest Whitfield (6-3, 2-1 Region 7-4A) defeated Murray County (6-3, 4-1 Region 6-3A) in Chatsworth Monday.
The loss avenges a 60-57 loss by Northwest to Murray County earlier in the season.
Ray Morrison led Northwest Whitfield with 16 points, while Chandler Jackson had 11 points. Murray County's Haden Newport was the game's leading scorer with 18. Brannon Nuckolls added 11 points.
Northwest next hosts Dalton on Jan. 2 at 4:30 p.m., while Murray County plays McMinn County at home at 6 tonight.
Dalton 64, North Murray 40
Dalton (6-1, 3-0 Region 5-6A) defeated North Murray (1-4, 0-2 Region 6-3A) in the first round of the Mistletoe Madness tournament at North Murray Monday.
Grace Ridley led the Lady Catamounts with 19 points, while Kinsley Skiffen added 12 points. Emma Hefner scored eight.
With the win, Dalton has already matched last season's win total in the first season under head coach Hannah Harris. Dalton finished 6-19 last season.
Dalton, which is not competing for the tournament championship, plays Ringgold in a consolation game today at 12:30 p.m. in the tournament, while North Murray plays Northwest Whitfield today at 11 a.m.
McMinn County 53, Northwest Whitfield 45
Northwest Whitfield (2-4, 2-0 Region 7-4A) defeated McMinn County (4-5) out of Athens, Tennessee, in the first round of the Mistletoe Madness tournament at North Murray High School Monday.
McKenzie Brueckner scored 14 to lead the Lady Bruins, while Emma Allen scored eight.
Northwest plays North Murray in the consolation bracket of the tournament today at 11 a.m.