Things kept moving at Etowah this season, with the Eagles winning their third straight Region 4AAAAAAA championship and advancing to the second round of the state playoffs for the third straight season.
Jason Dasinger took over the program's reins in 2017, following the first region title, and while he has added two more, he credited the players with most of that success.
“These kids had three coaches in three years, and now three in four years,” said Dasinger, the 2018-19 Cherokee Tribune Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. “The only thing that has been consistent is the kids in the program. You want to get your culture intact, but these kids are just really good. The consistency of our success is really with them.”
While much of the team had already seen a pair of region championships, there was not much experience on a group that was losing four starters.
Reigning region and county player of the year Jaxon Etter was back, but replacing three players who moved on to college was one of Dasinger’s toughest coaching jobs.
“One thing I had to learn was how important preseason stuff was,” Dasinger said. “In those early, non-region games, our goal was to go out there and see what worked. Two years ago, we knew what we had. We could pretty much just tell them to go play, and they would make it work. We tinkered around a lot and lost some games early, but we got comfortable by the end.”
Despite the roster turnover, Etowah’s metrics stayed similar.
The Eagles won six fewer games, but their points per game stayed the same at 56.4. The points allowed per game jumped from 45 to 50.5, but it was behind a group prepared to take charge.
“We talked to some of the guys last year when they were on the bench,” Dasinger said. “We told them this would be their year. Their time was coming. They prepared for it during our run last year. This year, it was their time, and they were ready.”
More structure on the offensive side was required this year, but defense remained the main focus for the Eagles.
“Our guys just like to win,” Dasinger said. “They know, if they want to win and play at Etowah, defense has to come first. The offense will come. There were nights we made a lot of shots. We just know defense will give us a shot regardless of our offense.”
On both sides of the floor, Dasinger’s team did its best work at the end of the season.
The Eagles won 11 of their final 14 games of the season, and while they came up just short of reaching the quarterfinals for the third straight year, Dasinger said continuing to focus the entire season on the stretch run will only help his team take the next step.
“In our classification, you’re going to hit some good teams,” Dasinger said. “It’s always going to be difficult. We just have a different mentality when February hits. I try not to show a ton until that time of year. Hopefully, it can get us a couple quick baskets with some stuff people haven’t seen yet. The whole year is just getting ready for that point.”
Entering his senior season, Etowah's Jaxon Etter was only concerned with keeping his team on top.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Etter helped guide the Eagles to the first two region titles in team history and a pair of playoff wins, while picking up a Region Player of the Year award along the way.
Though Etowah did not quite cruise through the regular season like it did last season year and entered the Region 4AAAAAAA tournament as the No. 2 seed, Etter got his third straight region title with a win over Cherokee.
“It was about pride,” said Etter, the 2018-19 Cherokee Tribune Boys Basketball of the Year. “I didn’t want to lose to any other team in the region, let alone a county team like Cherokee. We wanted to set the tone for Etowah. Etowah is going to be dominant in this region. You can already tell. I wasn’t going to leave without a region championship.”
The end result was the same, but Etter played an even larger role this time around.
After losing the other four starters to graduation, Etter had to do a little bit of everything. He led the Eagles with 21.3 points per game, but he also added 6.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.2 steals while being more vocal at both ends of the floor.
“My mindset was to take on more of a leadership role for myself,” he said. “I was that guy being carried last year by our other four starters, but I knew I had to be that guy this year. This year, I had to change my role to more than a scorer. I needed to be a leader, too.”
For Etter, that process started during the offseason with the Atlanta All-Stars. Playing on the AAU circuit, Etter said the improved competition only made him better, and he tried to share that with his high school teammates.
“My AAU season helped tremendously,” he said. “I was playing better competition and getting better myself. I can bring that in here and help those younger guys with the same push.”
Etter said Etowah has learned to play with the quicker guards it sees in the postseason, and with the height coming through the program, he thinks the Eagles could be ready to take the next step to the quarterfinals next season.
“Some height would help,” he said. “We’ve gotten some tough draws in the bracket, but some height could help level that playing field. We have a lot in the program now. As long as we have some pieces around it, we can break that streak of losing in the second round.”
As Etowah looks to break through to the deeper rounds of the playoffs, Etter will be playing at Georgia as a preferred walk-on. He said he received the offer at the beginning of the season, and once Bulldogs coach Tom Crean signed top recruit Anthony Edwards from Holy Spirit Prep in Atlanta, Etter knew he and the coaching staff were on the same page.
“I’m just happy to have the opportunity to earn some minutes on the court,” Etter said. “Now it’s my time to work and earn it. I went into it looking how I could help grow the brand of Georgia basketball. I think they have that same thinking now to try to build that program into a national powerhouse.”
ETOWAH YOUTH BASKETBALL SPRING SKILLS ACADEMY
AND SUMMER CAMP REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
4/9/2019 - 5/21/2019
Tuesday and Sunday nights from 5:30pm-7:00pm
No sessions on Easter or Mothers Day
Boys Grades: 5th-8th
6/10/2019 - 6/13/2019 ~ Monday - Thursday
Boys Grades: 3rd-9th (Ages 8-14)
Starts: 9:00am / Ends: 3:00pm
6/24/2019 - 6/27/2019 ~ Monday - Thursday
Boys Grades: 3rd-9th (Ages 8-14)
Starts: 9:00am / Ends: 3:00pm
7/15/2019 - 7/18/2019 ~ Monday - Thursday
Boys Grades: 3rd-9th (Ages 8-14)
Starts: 9:00am / Ends: 3:00pm
Jaxon Etter, two time Region Player of the Year, has announced that he will continue his basketball and academic career at the University of Georgia. On March 23, Etter will also play in the GACA Senior State All-Star game where as a Junior last year he was named MVP.
The Etowah varsity boys basketball team took home the Region Championship trophy for the third consecutive year after beating Cherokee 44-39.
Thank you for your support of our Eagles!
State Tournament begins February 15
Eagles complete region three-peat with win over Cherokee
Etowah's Jaxon Etter finished with game-high 19 points to lead Etowah to its third straight Region 4AAAAAAA championship.
CANTON -- Etowah built and early lead and held off a Cherokee charge in the second half to complete its Region 4AAAAAAA three-peat with a 44-37 win Friday.
The Eagles (16-9) stifled the Warriors’ (11-15) offense in the first half to lead 30-13 at the break, and while Cherokee was able to get within three points in the second half, Etowah never surrendered its lead.
As Cherokee struggled early, Etowah had little trouble getting on the board.
“It feels great, because high school basketball is about memories,” Etowah coach Jason Dasinger said. “That’s a memory those kids will never forget. They did what they always do. Holding a team to 13 points in the first half gave us a little bit of a cushion. We knew they were going to make a run in the second half, but defense hangs banners.
P.G. Forde made three 3-pointers in the first half to finish with 10 points. Jaxon Etter had 10 of his 19 points before the break, but things flipped in the third quarter, where the Warriors outscored the Eagles 16-5 to get within six points.
The quarter started with a 15-1 run by Cherokee thanks to improvement in the hustle stats that saw Etowah take a 7-3 advantage in offensive rebounds, a 6-4 edge in turnovers and a 13-7 advantage in free throws attempted in the second half.
“We played the early game (Thursday), but it took a little out of us,” Cherokee coach Roger Kvam said. “It took us a little while to get going. We had to take a timeout early just to gather ourselves a little bit. We knew we had a chance to do better i the second half, but credit to Etowah, they played great defense.”
Elijah Tucker led the charge in the third for Cherokee with eight of his 13 points. Thailand Owens added 11 points, and Zack Vickers made eight second-half free throws to finish with 11 of his own.
The run continued into the fourth quarter, with Cherokee getting as close as 40-37 with 2:00 to play, but the Eagles scored the final four points of the game to seal it.
“It says everything about those kids,” Dasinger said. “I was at a loss. I had no idea what to do, but those kids said they had it. That senior class won their third region championship, because they know how to win in those moments.”
Both teams will host first-round playoff games next week.
On Friday, February 1, Senior basketball players and managers were recognized between the Varsity Girls’ and Boys’ basketball games.
These outstanding student athletes have accomplished so much and given us four awesome years of basketball.
May the lessons you learned on the court carry you into your next chapter! We wish you all the best.
ROSWELL -- Etowah’s comeback attempt came up just short Tuesday in a 65-55 Region 4AAAAAAA loss to Roswell.
With the loss and Walton's win over Cherokee, the Eagles (12-9, 6-2) fell to the region’s No. 2 seed, while the Hornets (19-4, 8-0) clinched the top seed heading into the region tournament, but Etowah coach Jason Dasinger said the loss does not change this season’s goal.
“All we have to do is win one region game, and we’re in the same spot they are,” he said. “One of our goals was not to win a regular-season region championship. We’ve done that. Our goal is to win the region tournament, and we got better (Tuesday). Credit to them. They played a great game, but it’s going to help us moving forward.”
Roswell jumped out to an early lead thanks to a box-and-one defense that focused on Jaxon Etter and took the Etowah offense out of rhythm.
After scoring the first four points of the game, Etowah gave up 22 of the game’s next 25 and never led again.
“I have to do a better job of putting guys in a position to score,” Dasinger said. “I didn’t do that. They were taking Jaxon away, but we have 15 guys who can score on this team. It was poor coaching on our part.”
Etter finished with 10 points. Matt Lane also added 10, while P.G. Forde and Bryce Dotson each helped pick up the slack with eight points each.
The Eagles finally got their offense going after halftime with runs of 8-0 and 6-0 in the third quarter. Those runs included three offensive rebounds that resulted in six second-chance points in the frame to cut the deficit to 40-37 heading into the fourth.
“The kids played hard,” Dasinger said. “They always do. They worked hard, crashed the glass and made plays. Despite my bad coaching, they made plays. That’s why I love this team. If we bring that type of energy, I like our chances.”
Roswell was able to pull away again in the fourth quarter behind 21 points from George Pridgett and 19 points from Kolby Wade, but Dasinger said he expects his team to improve from the experience.
The Eagles will play again Friday against Woodstock, where Dasinger said he expects his team to continue to improve before it makes a run at its third straight region title.
“We still have everything in front of us,” he said. “We’re the No. 2 seed in the region. That gets us into the state tournament. That was a goal of ours. Hopefully we can get there as a region champion again.”
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Here’s to our Etowah teachers!! We are truly grateful for your hard work, dedication and support!
Etowah Student Section - Thanks for your Support!
Varsity Players hit Longhorn for a pre-game meal
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