RELENTLESS! LADY DOGS RUN TO CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

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By R. Alan Richardson Sports Editor The last time the Morgan County girls’ basketball team made the finals was in 1983 under the guidance of Coach Steve Cisson. That year they won it all for the only State Championship in Morgan County girls’ history. We hope that is a good omen. Head Coach Josh Reeves was born in 1983. It’s been a while. This year’s team has one common characteristic. They get after you! The depth, speed, quickness, rebounding, and defense of this squad are things you will never question. They are relentless on both ends of the court and never give you one minute to catch your breath. The full court defense they employ wears teams down in the second half and that was no more evident than this past week.

The Lady Dogs took down archrival and reigning state champion Laney in a third game matchup 62-53 in the elite eight, and then handed Johnson-Savannah a 65-49 loss to advance to the finals. The big three of Sydney Nash, Pumpkin Brown, and Tatyana Davis were again big in both games. In the final four game with Johnson-Savannah the trio combined for 52 of the team’s points and it didn’t take them long to get it going in this one. The Lady Dogs led 15-8 after the first quarter and they scored 12 of those 15. It was a wild and wooly first quarter with both teams getting up and down the court using fast breaking philosophies and full court defense. The Lady Dogs hit a drought in the second quarter going several possessions without a conversion that gave the Atom Smashers and opening. They closed the lead from 11 to one late in the second quarter at 26-25 before Morgan scored seven straight to end the half. Davis hit a fall away buzzer beater to end the half with two seconds remaining. Morgan led 33-25 at the half. The girls came out firing in the third quarter with Brown and Davis scoring seven combined points to take a 40-26 lead early in the period.

However, they hit another cold spurt offensively that allowed Johnson to get back right back in it 40-37 scoring 11 straight unanswered points. That’s when Brown showed why she is going to play at the next level a year from now. She took over the game on a barrage of driving layups and short jumpers scoring eight straight to end the quarter with a six point 48-42 lead. Morgan owned the fourth quarter outscoring Johnson 17-7 in the final eight minutes on a balanced offensive attack to take the win. Selena Fortune’ had a monster game with six points, but it was her rebounding and defense that impressed the onlookers as she completely dominated the boards on both ends of the court the entire night and especially in the fourth quarter when things were on the line. Coach Reeves weighed in on the game saying, “It was one of those games where we were in control, but never comfortable.

We would run out to a 10 point lead and they would make a run to cut it to two or three points. They are a well-rounded team with three guards and a 6-5 shot blocker who deserved to be there. Pumpkin put us on her back in the second half and had eight straight to end the quarter. Selena’s rebounding and defense were a difference maker for us. She got big rebounds at big moments in the game. We played with heart and it showed. Lou Reid, Tat, and Brittany Belser held their region 1-AAA player-of-the-year to seven points. The amount of fresh bodies on her gave her fits on offense.” Brown led the scoring with 24, Davis had 19, and Nash added 9 in the win. The previous game that put the girls in the final four was one of utmost significance with number one ranked Morgan pitted against the number two team in the state, the Laney Lady Wildcats. This was the third meeting between the two teams and Reeves talked about that fact, “It’s tough to beat a great team like Laney three times in one season. It certainly wasn’t easy.”

It was a back-and-forth game with lead changes and ties throughout the game, but the Lady Dogs were up to the task. Morgan was down eight in the third but was able to cut the margin to four going into the fourth quarter. Reeves said, “When we were down by eight in the fourth Pumpkin hit a big three at the top of the key and then Sydney made a big steal out of the press where Pumpkin then hit Tat on a great assist to bring us within two early in the fourth. We finally started turning them over three or four times in a row. The girls just kept pushing and pushing and we finally hit some big shots off of steals. Brittany hit a big three for us that put us up by five with 1:30 remaining. After that I just felt like we were going to win the game.” Morgan’s Lady Dogs will now face Jackson of Atlanta in the finals on Saturday at 3p.m. for the trophy. The game will be played at the Macon Coliseum/Centreplex before the boys’ game at 4:45 p.m. There should be a sea of red and black at this one.

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