Final Four bound: Huge third quarter helps Dalton steamroll Arabia Mountain on the way to state semifinals

Feb. 27—Dalton High School led its Class 5A girls basketball quarterfinal game at Lithonia's Arabia Mountain 34-26 at halftime Tuesday night.

With Arabia Mountain, a team that entered the game on a 16-game win streak, hoping to climb back in the game, Dalton instead erased any doubt.

To start the third quarter Dalton (21-9) went on an 18-0 run to build an unassailable lead and cruised past Arabia Mountain (26-3) 71-52 to reach the state's Final Four for the first time since 2011.

Dalton will play Midtown Friday at 5 p.m. at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton in the Class 5A semifinals.

Dalton battled through early foul trouble to take a 19-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. After Arabia Mountain grabbed a 22-21 lead in the second quarter, the Lady Cats began the takeover.

Dalton outscored the home team 13-4 in the rest of the second quarter to take the halftime lead.

After the 18-0 run to start the third, which was aided by steals, quick scores, and Emma Hefner 3-pointers, Dalton had outscored Arabia Mountain 30-4 since the 22-21 lead by Arabia. That run made the Dalton total double Arabia Mountain's at 52-26, and the the lead was 32 at the end of the third quarter, 64-32.

The fourth quarter was shortened to six minutes because of the mercy rule. With Dalton reserves in the game, Arabia Mountain put together a 14-0 run to open the fourth quarter, but Dalton was able to ride the huge lead to take the 71-52 win.

Dalton is in the state semis for the first time since the 2011 squad reached the state title game. After falling in the first round in 2022 and the second round last year, Dalton has broken through for its sixth semifinals appearance in program history.

Grace Ridley and Kemara Washington shared the Dalton lead in points with 16 apiece. Ridley added seven steals and five rebounds.

Hefner finished with 14 points, and Jolie Wingfield went for 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Dalton gets Midtown in the semifinals. The second-seeded team in Region 5-5A defeated Jones County 58-37 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

The Region 5 champion, Maynard Jackson, is in the state semis on the other half of the bracket, and Cartersville, which finished second in Region 7-5A to Dalton, is the opponent.

Midtown was ranked fourth in the final Class 5A rankings of the regular season, while Dalton was fifth.