By R. Alan Richardson sports editor
Over the past five seasons the Morgan County Hoop Dogs have been the standard to measure yourself up to in Region 8-AAA. Their dominating play on the hardcourt has led to five straight Region Championships over that span. Seniors like Devorious Brown and Jailyn Ingram have enjoyed that ride of success since they were freshmen and hope to go out on another big run into the state tournament this year. Head Coach Jamond Sims was asked the reason for the reloading of MCHS basketball. Here’s what he said, “I think what’s happened is that players are starting to take ownership at the younger levels and it’s continuing because of the teaching at the Middle School and our Fall and Summer Hoop Dog Program. There have been some good teams at Morgan back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s that went to the final four and championship game, but there’s never been a run like the one we have experienced over the past five years.
It’s exciting for everyone.” In the semi-final round of tournament play Morgan faced Jefferson at Emmanuel College on Friday and came away with a big 60-24 victory that launched them into the finals against East Jackson on Saturday. The Dogs came out in their patented style of 2-2-1 pressure and extended 2-3 zone that smothered Jefferson early. Sims said, “It was one of those games where we got in a flow early and created turnovers that led to some easy baskets. They got a couple of decent looks, but no clean ones. Eventually they rushed some shots that gave us opportunities on the break and we closed the deal on them in the second half.”
The Dogs had four players in double digits on a balanced offensive night. Jordan Ford had 14, Alec Woodard 13, Ingram 11, and Quinn Williams went for 11. Sims commented, “A lot of guys and coaches who watch us play say that you never know who’s going to come out and bring some more offensive fire power to the table for us.” Saturday’s championship game was a much tougher contest with the Dogs pulling out the nine point win over East Jackson 60-51. The Dogs were tied after the first quarter and only up by 5, 32-27, at intermission. Sims gave these thoughts, “This was the third time we played a very good team. It’s tough to beat any talented team three times in a row. East Jackson had some time to work on our pressure and 2-3 zone. They played with more confidence and did a nice job against us. The guard play for them from the sophomores is excellent, but I think the difference in the game was that they lean on those two guys and we lean on our whole team. They don’t have as much depth and we have more guys that we have confidence in to score when they have the ball.”
The Dogs never trailed after the half in a hard-fought game. Morgan extended their lead to as many as 15 in the second half, but Sims was a little disappointed saying, “We had some guys who tried to step out of the box a little after we got the lead that allowed them to make the final score closer than I thought it should have been.” Leading scorers in the championship game were Ingram with 22, Williams with 10, and Brown along with Ford added nine each. One positive note for MOCO was the return of senior guard Devorious Brown who had been out since January 18th with an injury. Sims was quick to praise his team on their season saying, “I’m really proud of these guys and this team. They faced adversity, managed to stick together, and stayed focused on their overall goals this weekend and throughout the season.” Morgan’s boys will face Pepperell on February 17th at 7:30. The scouting report of this fourth seed is that they rely heavily on the strength of their guard play. The squad is a small, very scrappy team with a 14-10 overall record that tries to control tempo and not turn the ball over. Depending on the outcome of this game, the Dogs could host another state playoff game on February 19th or 20th.