It was all hands on deck at Morgan County Middle School this week as the teams played before a packed house. The cheerleaders and dance team joined in the fun to help fire up the Dogs in back-to-back conference wins for both the boys and girls against Youth and Putnam County. Earlier in the week the teams traveled to Social Circle for another Piedmont Athletic contest.
Monday’s event against the neighboring Redskins saw the girls get the win. The boys lost a close one in overtime by a single point 54-53. Boys Coach Bo Larkins said, “Uncharacteristically for our guys, we didn’t play smart when we had the lead and they made some timely shots when they needed to. They hit a 30-footer at the buzzer in regulation to tie it up, and we got a six point lead in overtime that we didn’t hold on to. It was a tough loss for the boys.” Leading the way in the scoring column were Ty Butler with 14, Rogers Clark 10, Marquavious Wright 8, and Anaury Warren 7.
The first of two home games pitted the Bulldogs against the Youth Warriors. Coach Brian Cousins watched his team come out of the gate a little slow and trailed 11-7 after the first quarter. However, when the veteran went from his zone press to full court man-to-man in the second period, the girls created turnovers that they converted into easy baskets. The halftime score saw Morgan leading 24-17. Shay Brown was crucial for the Lady Dogs during the run. Using her speed and quickness she came away with 10 points to help regain the lead.
It was all Lady Dogs’ defense the second half. The stifling man-to-man gave up only six points the remainder of the game to seal the 41-23 victory. Brown ended the game with 12. The Dogs got contributions from Destiny Hunter with 11 points and Aaliyah Cooper added 6.
The boys followed suit by pounding Youth 46-30. They left no doubt by taking an early 16-2 lead and never let off the gas. They led 16-5 after the first six minutes after Youth hit a 35-foot bomb at the buzzer. Zemarion (Zee) Little and Wright sparked the Dogs combining for 11 of the 16.
The halftime lead ballooned to 16 points 25-9. The floor game of Butler was outstanding with assists leading to easy buckets and steals out of the Bulldog press. The second half would have been a complete runaway had it not been for Youth’s David Walker who had 17 of his team’s 21 second half points. His buzzer beater Hail Mary three to end the third quarter and 12 fourth quarter points pulled the Warriors to within 41-30 before Morgan hit some late free throws. Wright led all scorers with 11 and Little added 10 in the win.
The Lady Bulldogs continued their winning ways against one of the better teams in the conference. Putnam County’s Lady War Eagles (4-1 coming into the game) gave the girls a battle in a game that had strong conference standing implications. Cousins’ squad came in undefeated on the season and leading the PAC at 5-0.
It was the inside dominance and overall quickness of Morgan that eventually was the difference in this one. Hunter and sixth grader Precious Benford proved to be too much in the paint as Morgan outdistanced Putnam 30-22 in a hard-fought contest. Foul trouble plagued both teams throughout the evening, but inconsistent officiating didn’t help things either. Cousins was heard telling his girls at a timeout to, “Move your feet!” It was a plea to his troops to quit reaching in their man-to-man defense.
Morgan led 19-9 at the half, but the outcome was still in doubt. Putnam’s coach was assessed with a technical foul for some unsavory comments directed at the officials. The free throws were good by Brown and Morgan took a 22-11 that they didn’t relinquish. The War Eagles could have made things closer had they not gone 2-8 from the free throw line in the final minutes of the contest.
Coming into the boys’ game with Putnam, we caught up with some of the Morgan players to get their thoughts on the upcoming contest with the War Eagles. Backup shooting guard Kenny Williams said, “We just have to play as a team and work as a team to get the win today.” The big man in the middle, Wright commented, “If we block out and play with a high basketball IQ, we should be fine.” Power forward Little was correct in his assessment of Putnam. He said, “They have a good shooter (Malik Forton). We have to close out on him. We didn’t cover the shooter in the Youth game.” Forton ended the night with 20 points against the Bulldogs.
The Dogs did all those things and then some in a 50-24 win. Similar to the Youth game, the Dogs used their speed and athleticism to jump all over Putnam in the first quarter. It was 14-2 after the first six minutes of play. After a slow second quarter, Morgan came out clicking on all cylinders in the third. Leading 18-13 after intermission, MOCO went on a 14-4 run and never looked back. The final was 50-24. Larkin emptied his bench early in this one. Crowd favorite Cooper Easterday hit a late jumper, much to the delight of the fans. He also hit a three-pointer in Wednesday’s contest with Youth. Samaurea Ward and Kenny Williams also scored late to bring the crowd to their feet.
Morgan’s schedule resumes after Christmas break with MCMS hosting Loganville Jan. 5 at 4:30.