By Greg Sullivan
The New England Patriots couldn't do it, but the Lady Pups could. And they did it twice.
After a 14-0 campaign last year, the Lady Pups finished 17-0 this year on their way to their second straight Piedmont Athletic Conference tournament crown and back-to-back undefeated seasons.
It wasn't easy for the Lady Pups, however. The team was used to winning in impressive blowouts, but Friday when they hosted Youth for the championship they had to win through perseverance.
After the Lady Pups led 10-0 early, the Youth Lady Hornets stormed back to close the gap to 12-9 Morgan County at the end of the first quarter. Going into the locker room at the half the score was a narrow 17-15 in favor of the Lady Pups.
The score remained tight throughout until the win was finally solidified as Sade Weaver hit a three pointer in the final minute to extend the Morgan County lead to 36-28, which proved to be the final score.
"We couldn't have won without teamwork," said Lady Pup Andrea Benford. "We played good defense and made good shots."
"It was a wonderful feeling."
Head Coach Mike House shared those same sentiments after being drenched by his players' water bottles following the big win.
"I'm so proud of these guys," House said. "They truly deserve everything they've done.”
Leading scorers against Youth were Sade Weaver with 13 points and five rebounds, Kiara Smith with eight points and five rebounds, Andrea Benford with seven points and 11 rebounds and Valencia Hawkins with five points.
House, however, said that he was most pleased with his team's efforts on defense.
"Our defense paved the way for us and allowed us to come out on top," he said. "Defense is something I've tried to stress this season."
The team, having finished one of the more memorable seasons in recent Morgan County memory, has a lot of accomplishments to look back fondly on.
"The stat that I'm most proud of is 100 percent of our girls remained academically eligible [for the season]," House said. "While two of our students [Shakarah Boswell and Kiara Smith] led the way as members of the National Honor Society."
"I truly believe that if this group can stay together that they'll have big plans for the future."
A look back at the Piedmont Athletic Conference tournament early rounds:
Round 1: Morgan County 50 Greene County 0
In one of their better games of the year, the Lady Pups treated the home crowd last Monday to a rare basketball shut out at the expense of rival Greene County.
The team scored 38 points in the first half, including 24 in the first quarter, on the way to their 50-0 rout.
"Overall, I was real pleased," said House. "We set the tone defensively."
Daja Davis led the team with 12 points in one of her better games of the year. Weaver had nine, Shadave Taylor had eight, and Marianna Swift and Valencia Hawkins each added six.
In a win that foreshadowed the Lady Pups' further tournament success.
Round 2: Morgan County 47 Social Circle 25
The Lady Pups got another big win Wednesday afternoon as they defeated Social Circle 47-25 in Madison.
The team led the Lady Redskins 16-7 going into the second quarter and 26-11 at the half, easily advancing to the tournament championship game.
"We got off to a great start in that game," said House.
House said his team struggled shooting from the floor, but it didn't prove to be a big enough factor to keep things close.
"Davis stepped up and responded for us," House said. "And [she] put in some crucial baskets."
Davis led the team for the second straight game, this time with 15 points. Benford had 13 and Weaver had 12. Valencia Hawkins added six.