Hannah Harris has a lot of fond memories of the Dalton High School gymnasium.
The 2008 Dalton High graduate was part of a lot of victories inside those walls. Harris, then known as Hannah Mayo, contributed to a few banners that grace the rafters, including the 2007 region championship.
But one of her top memories of the Dalton gym came yesterday. Now in her second year coaching Murray County, Harris scored her first win over her alma mater, a thrilling 57-55 decision, in the process sending a signal of how far her Lady Indians have come.
"It's a good win for us, our program, and for me personally," Harris said. "This gym means a lot to me, so it's fun to always come over here and to win in this gym. It's something I think is one of those things as a former player I have a lot of respect for this program. Winning, I think is something we can knock off as something showing we have become a much better team and in a sense, we've arrived."
For the Lady Indians (10-7), despite it being a non-region game, the win was important to bounce back after a loss on Friday.
"We came off a loss last night, a really hard loss and we needed this game to get our momentum going for Ringgold on Tuesday," Allison Weaver said.
"This win is really important to us," Kirsten Callahan added. "Not only does it help our momentum, it helps us getting better. Our offense has been hard to execute lately and we executed tonight really well. It was a really good game to get back on our feet."
For both Harris and her players to get that important win, it took a battle until the end.
"We really just had to keep our heads and stay calm," Callahan said. "We couldn't let the game get to us or we would've lost it. So, we had to stay calm.
The majority of the second half saw the lead flip-flop from team to team until the game sat tied entering the final minute. Dalton took possession after a steal and got the ball to the front court. An attempt to get the ball to Lauren Parker -- who led everyone with 21 points -- on the low block was intercepted by Weaver, in the process drawing a foul.
Weaver hit one of her two foul shots with 29.8 seconds on the clock putting Murray County ahead 56-55. Dalton's attempt to counter with a go-ahead shot misfired and Ally Bickford grabbed a big rebound for the Lady Indians.
Katie Ashe added a foul shot for Murray County in the closing seconds and a desperation half-court shot from Dalton was off the mark.
"My girls, I think one of our strengths this year is we've had a lot of games come down to the wire," Harris said. "They have showed a lot of composure and a lot of maturity and it's been a lot of different kids on the floor. I've looked up at different points in time in close ball games and Ive had a lot of different lineups out there. Our maturity and our seniority really help us close out those tight, close ones."
Weaver was playing an unnatural position down the stretch but still found a way to make the key defensive play, and then convert it into the winning points.
"One of our posts fouled out so I had to guard a post which, I'm not really comfortable doing that," Weaver, Murray County's top scorer with 17 points, said. "I knew I had to step up my D and guard a post. When I got the ball, I knew I couldn't panic and dribble. She fouled me, then I knew I just had to go put in a free throw."
Both teams had to navigate through foul trouble for most of the game. With key players on both sides either having to sit out crucial minutes or play cautiously on the floor, others stepped up and had big nights.
Dalton got six points out of Gracie Shaw including five in the third quarter helping the Lady Cats take a lead. Anna Wright had one of her best games of the year with 12 points and four rebounds.
For Murray County, Callahan hit one three 3-pointers for nine points.
"It just came," Callahan said of her hot hand. "This is really the first game that I went off so it was really important."
Also for the Lady Indians, Jaide Johns scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter and Makamie Garland came off the bench to lead the Lady Indians on the glass with six rebounds. Katie Ashe finished with eight points while handing out six assists.
Harris also credited the defensive play of Morgan Cowart.
"We have 12 kids that can all really play," Harris said. "Kirsten stepped up tonight and hit some big, big shots," Harris said. "Morgan stepped up and had a great role to stop of their better players and hold her down. That's her job for us as a defensive stopper and she does that night in, night out. It doesn't get a lot of glory but she did a great job doing that. All my kids really stepped up and had good minutes when called upon."
Parker added 13 rebounds on the night for Dalton and McCall Maret added seven points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.