By R. Alan Richardson
The old adage of being snakebit refers to a team that is having a hard time getting a win due to being unlucky. Webster’s defines it as having or experiencing failure or bad luck. The Morgan County girls’ basketball team should have their photo right beside that definition. Close losses to quality competition could have turned into wins with one lucky bounce, shot, or rebound. Webster’s also uses this sentence as an example: He’s so snakebit that nothing he does seems to turn out right.
The Lady Dogs have suffered close losses to Hart County, Luella, Mill Creek, Woodstock, Cedar Shoals, and Jefferson by a total differential of only 20 points. Two of the losses were by one point to Luella and Cedar Shoals. None of these teams would be considered pancakes by anyone’s standards.
This team is playing hard. Let me repeat that. They are playing hard. These losses had nothing to do with getting outhustled or being outcoached. If you haven’t seen these girls play, you owe it to yourself to come out to watch the quality product they put on the court in every game. They’ve just been snakebit.
Coming off the first State Championship since 1981 last season, the Lady Dogs have high expectations for a program that has been to the State Tournament for several years running. This year is no different. However, key losses from a year ago with the graduation of Pumpkin Brown (Starting point guard at Georgia Southern) and Sidney Nash (Emmanuel College) have left Morgan with a little less firepower offensively. This has given teams an opportunity to focus on Tatyana Davis and Salina Fortune to make things more difficult for the team. Experience was a key factor for 2016’s squad so as the season has progressed we have seen maturity and growth coming from some of the freshmen, sophomores, and even juniors. We all know that these Lady Dogs are going to be a force in region play going into January and February. Keep your heads up. The next six close ones will turn into six close wins.
This past week the team opened up region 8-AAA play with tough losses to Franklin 63-45 on the road and Hart County 56-53 Friday night at home.
Friday’s contest was another one of those that Morgan had their chances to win late in the game. It was a great test for the Lady Dogs with Hart being looked at as one of the region front runners in a wide-open race.
Hart came out of the gate running and gunning to take a 13-2 lead midway through the opening stanza before Coach Josh Reeves called timeout. He must have had some choice words in the huddle for his troops. They came out with renewed vigor outscoring the Lady Bulldogs from Hart 10-2 the remainder of the quarter. Santaji Reid and Davis scored four each for Morgan during the run. Hart still led 15-12 as second quarter action began.
The girls continued to be aggressive taking the ball inside and forcing the play with strong drives to the basket. Morgan made 8-12 free throws to keep things close at the half, but Hart still led 32-28. Aris Hubbard, Cailee Anderson, Autumn Woodard, Fortune, Morgan Walker, and Davis all contributed for the Dogs.
The second half was a back-and-forth scramble for a region win with ties and lead changes right down to the final buzzer. Morgan tied things up with 6:02 remaining in the third on a three-pointer by Davis that had the crowd buzzing. She made the go-ahead bucket with 1:56 left, but the score remained tied at the 24 minute mark 42-42.
The final quarter was a dog fight. Hart called timeout with 3:02 left after going up 53-46, but Morgan fought back. Woodard hit a three with 1:12 left to make things even more interesting, but were still down 56-53. The girls began fouling to put Hart on the line hoping for a miss that would leave the Lady Dogs one last chance to tie in a one possession game. Hart blew a gasket at the charity stripe missing six free throws in the final 45 seconds, but MOCO could not capitalize on any of those three possessions leaving the final at 56-53 and another tough loss for the home team.