Today Region, tomorrow State!
Morgan Co. Hoop Dogs beat Franklin to win 8-AAA championship
By Nick Nunn
The Morgan County Hoop Dogs proved last week that they deserve their top ranking in the region by beating Franklin County 61-41 in the 8-AAA region championship game. The victory over Franklin came on the heels of beating Hart County 73-28 and Jackson County 87-57 in the earlier rounds of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Lady Dogs lost to Hart County in the first round of the girls’ playoffs 32-41, which eliminated them from the bracket.
During the first half of the championship game against Franklin County, Morgan County appeared sluggish defensively, neglecting rebounds on both sides of the ball.
“We had a few chances in the first half to make a push but we were unable to capitalize on the opportunities,” asserted Coach Gibbons.
After the first quarter, the Dogs were only ahead 23-22, which was hardly enough to mollify the restless Morgan County fan base in the stands.
In the first minutes of the third quarter, Morgan County showed no signs of pulling ahead, but, apparently out of nowhere, the defensive net tightened up, the percentage of missed shots dropped to almost zero, and the Dogs never looked back.
“I feel in the second half, especially in the third, we took full advantage of every missed shot and turnover that Franklin County had,” said Gibbons.
By the end of the third quarter, the Dogs had built the one-point lead from the first half to a solid 18-point lead, which they were able to maintain and increase through the end of the game, winning 61-41.
The Hoop Dogs’ earlier tournament victories were won without much competition.
Against Jackson County, Morgan County was leading 72-38 in the third quarter, so Gibbons removed his starters from the game early explaining that it was more important for them to be healthy and rested for the next day, when they would face Hart County.
The Dogs walked all over Hart County. Morgan County held Hart scoreless in the third quarter – an impressive achievement during a tournament semifinal game.
The Lady Dogs, however, were not so successful during their first tournament game, losing 32-41.
After maintaining a tied 9-9 score in the first quarter, Morgan fell a little behind by the half.
Nevertheless, the Lady Dogs tied the score again at the end of the third quarter 24-24, but Morgan fell apart in the last quarter, fouling Hart County so often that they were able to pick up seven points from free throw shots alone in the fourth quarter.
Alexis Brown’s 16-point total during the game – half of Morgan’s offensive output – wasn’t enough to hold the Lady Dogs above water. Hart County finished ahead 41-32.
The Hoop Dogs’ bid for the state title began this Wednesday in a home game against Ringold High School.
Coach Gibbons is confident about Morgan County’s strengths carrying them deep into the state bracket this year.
“I think we are well prepared for the state playoffs with the returning guys who made the run last year as well as the tough schedule we played last year,” began Coach Gibbons. “We have a tough bracket that could include a second round match up versus North Hall. Thankfully, we have home court advantage, where our fans can support us through this run.”
Keep your eye on the Morgan County Citizen’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for basketball tournament updates in the next few weeks.
Printed in the February 21, 2013 edition