By R. Alan Richardson Sports Editor
The hardcourt Dogs took on an overmatched Pepperell team last Wednesday in the first round of the state tournament at home, but got off to a slow start. MOCO was all over the offensive glass early, but couldn’t convert on some easy opportunities. Along with the cold shooting, Morgan had a couple of turnovers in the early going that put them behind 9-4. Pepperell woke up a sleeping giant after that and the Dogs rolled off 17 unanswered points to take a 21-4 lead. They never looked back. Late in the first half Jailyn Ingram and Jordan Ford put the exclamation point on the half with back-to-back thunder dunks on the break to grab a 34-17 lead at intermission. After Pepperell made a three-pointer to start the second half, Morgan went on another 14-3 run that put the visitors out of their misery. The final score was 71-30.
The win gave Morgan another chance to play at home three days later due to their number one seeding coming into the tournament. Saturday, before a great home crowd, the Dogs got their money’s worth from North Clayton taking a 67-54 win. It was not easy and certainly much closer than the final score indicated. North Clayton came into the Sweet Sixteen as a number two seed from region 4-AAA. They were sporting a 19-10 record going 8-2 in region play and were in no way intimidated by the number one ranked MOCO squad. The pace of the game from the opening tip was that of a thoroughbred horserace with both teams playing full court pressure defense and hard-nosed half court zone and man-to-man. It was a back and forth first quarter with four lead changes and two ties before Morgan took the 14-13 lead after eight minutes. Senior guard Devorious Brown and Ingram showed why they are college signees in the second quarter scoring all of the team’s 15 points. Brown hit three three-pointers in the period and Ingram showed his versatility by slashing and dunking his way for the other six. Still, the Dogs trailed by one 30-29 at halftime.
After the half North Clayton took a five point lead at 38-33 before Brown hit a big three that was followed up by Alec Woodard’s two free throws and his own three-pointer to regain the lead at 41-38. Emmanuel Little finished off the third with a bucket that left the boys with a three point lead going into the final period. It was game on in the fourth with the losers going home to pack up the equipment for the year. However, the Morgan County defense was up to the task and put on a clinic in the final quarter. With the score tied at 52 all, the Dogs went on a six point spurt with 3:32 remaining in the contest that was spurred by great hustle, offensive rebounding, and quick hands. They weren’t finished yet. The relentless defense came up with back to back to back steals that stifled North Clayton and led to consecutive layups that sealed the deal. Leading the way for the Dogs were Ingram with 19, Woodard with 18 on 6-7 free throws, and Brown with 14 on four three’s. Next up for the Dogs will be rival Laney High School at Augusta State University on August 25th at 8:15.