By R. Alan Richardson sports editor
The Lady Dogs basketball squad took home the 8-AAA title this past weekend at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs. The team put an exclamation point on their undefeated regular season region schedule by defeating Jackson County and Hart County by double digits. This is the third consecutive region trophy for the girls under the direction of Head Coach Josh Reeves. The girls are currently ranked number one in the state and are hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs that began at home Wednesday night.
The Lady Dogs took the win on Friday against Jackson County 66-44 in a game that wasn’t that close. Reeves talked about the win, “We ran both of our presses to give them a different look and had a 21-6 lead after a great first quarter. However, we sent them to the line 13 times in the second and they made 12 of them to get back in the game and keep it close. It also slowed the game down and that’s not how we like to play. The team has to learn a balance between aggressive play and stepping from behind and going through. We have been abysmal at the line the last few games. It’s hard to explain as we shoot about 70 percent of the year.” It was 35-22 at the break. Morgan has been a third quarter team all season long and this night was no different. Tatyana Davis came out on fire after the half scoring 13 of the team’s 17 points on a mixture of jumpers and slashing baskets that opened it up for the team 52-33 to put the Panthers in their rearview mirror. Davis led the team with 19, Pumpkin Brown had 13, and Sydney Nash added 10.
The finals pitted the Lady Dogs against the best that 8-AAA had to offer in Hart County and they were up for the fight. Reeves talked about his opponent saying, “They play aggressive basketball and can definitely make some noise in the playoffs. Hart has a nice core of players.” Morgan led by two, 17-15, after a furious first quarter of play. Both teams played wide open basketball with the Lady Dogs getting to the bucket on aggressive drives, but couldn’t convert at the free throw line. Missing eight charity stripe attempts in the period kept the team from widening the lead. In the second, and down by three, the Lady Dogs went on a flurry of plays that made the difference for the night. Jatariea Brown made two big free throws and Pumpkin Brown followed that up with two straight conventional three point plays. Pumpkin missed her next shot but Salina Fortune’ was there to save the day. She grabbed the rebound and was fouled on the make for a third straight three point play to put the girls up by eight (37-29) at the half. It was an 11 point run! Morgan widened the lead in the second half and cruised on to the win. Reeves commented, “Pumpkin had one of her best games with 26. Salina played the game of her life, as did Pumpkin, and they picked up their teammates that didn’t shoot well. They stepped up.” Fortune’ had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Combined with Jatariea’s totals the Lady Dogs got 17 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks.
“When you look at those combined totals, it’s like we have an all-state player at the five position,” said Reeves. The head coach added, “These girls just want to win. They really don’t care who gets what on the stat sheet or in the scorebook. I’d also like to say how much we love our fans, especially our regulars that come out and support us no matter what the weather conditions may be like. We thrive on their energy. The girls need you there during the state tournament.”