By R. Alan Richardson sports editor Morgan’s girls took home the tournament trophy by breezing through the opposition in last week’s Christmas Tournament with big wins over Hampton, Central Gwinnett, and Monroe of Albany High Schools. Second round action pitted Morgan against the Central Gwinnett Lady Black Knights with the home team jumping out early to a 12-3 lead before Central went on a tear cutting the lead to 3. The first quarter ended with the Lady Dogs only ahead 15-10. The second quarter was a see-saw eight minutes with both teams making short runs and Morgan leading 29-26 at the break. Coach Josh Reeves was not happy about his team’s play. The look on his face coming off the court gave the feeling that you’d like to have been a fly on the wall to hear his halftime “speech” in the locker room.
Evidently the motivation worked as the team came out smoking. Morgan went on a big run to start the quarter outscoring Central 14-2 to grab a 43-28 advantage that the Black Knights never recovered from. The final was 69-48. The senior guards again led the scoring with Pumpkin Brown (nine of 10 from the line) and Tot Davis taking high honors with 23 each and Sydney Nash adding nine in the win to put the team in the finals against an athletic Monroe Albany opponent. Reeves talked about the win, “Central Gwinnett was a tough game for us. The first half we couldn’t really get going like we wanted. Our press was good but we were overly aggressive and picked up too many fouls early on. I believe we were a little tired from the night before and that, plus the amount of fouls we picked up, had us a bit frustrated. Pumpkin was big in the first half with 3 and 1’s in a row. Coming out in the second half, our press was very effective and we created a lot of turnovers and turned those into layups on our end. Sydney and Tot came out on fire and extended our lead in the third. We were able to hold off Central and pick up a hard fought win.”
In what many would describe as a good old-fashioned bar brawl of a championship game, both Morgan and Monroe came to play with their intense style of defense and aggressive fast-paced offense. Take no prisoners was the theme of the night. After the first round ended and the bell rang the two teams were locked at 12-12. The second quarter was much of the same until the final three minutes of the half. With the Lady Dogs trailing 26-25, Morgan outscored Monroe 12-2 during that span. Much of the success came off the 1-2-2 press that forced some turnovers that resulted in easy layups and a 37-28 lead for the Lady Dogs at the break. It looks like this team is a second half group as they again jumped out of the gate in the third quarter and overwhelmed Monroe. The visitors only scored three points in the quarter while Morgan put up 22 that put the game out of reach going into the fourth. Lou Reid put the team on her shoulders and put on a scoring clinic in the third quarter with 11 of her 12 points. The Lady Dogs won the title 75-40. Leading scorers for Morgan were Davis with 23, Nash 15, Brown 13, and Reid 12. Reeves chimed in on the tournament win, “Monroe (Albany) was a tough matchup for us. All of their players were strong and excellent rebounders. They got after the offensive glass and caused a lot of problems for us in the first half. Our girls fought to keep the game close and Sydney was able to knock down two big 3’s going into halftime to get us to a nine point lead.
After halftime, our girls played some of the best defense I’ve seen from us all year. We allowed three points in the third quarter while scoring 22. Lou went on a personal 10-0 run hitting two 3’s and two layups in the span of about two mins. It really electrified our fans and team.” Tot Davis was chosen as the Sweet South MVP while Sydney and Pumpkin were chosen to the all-tournament team. Nash averaged 12 points and eight rebounds for the tournament. Pumpkin averaged 19.7 points and 4.5 steals. Tatyana averaged 23.7 points and four steals. All three deserved their awards and all played like MVPs during the tournament. Other players such as Brittany Belser, Lou Reid, and Autumn Woodard had great individual games during the tournament. They shot the ball well and did all the intangibles to help Morgan secure the tournament championship.