By R. Alan Richardson
Over the past week the MCHS ladies took a 57-36 victory over Jackson County and lost a close one to Franklin County 66-61 at home on the hardcourt. Morgan is now 3-3 in 8-AAA Region play and 7-12 overall. The girls have lost a ton of close games, including the one on Friday with the Lady Lions. If this team will keep working and stay together, they can be a team that no one wants to face in the Region Tournament.
It was raining three’s in the Jackson County game with Morgan nailing nine from behind the ark. Four of those came in the first quarter when the Lady Dogs opened the contest with a 13-5 lead. Four consecutive three-pointers by Autumn Woodard (2), Sarah Couch, and Tot Davis got the fans on their feet. Morgan’s man-to-man defense was stifling creating some easy layups off forced turnovers for a 17-7 lead after eight minutes of play.
Woodard again had the hot hand in the second quarter hitting on two more bombs outside the arc and scoring eight of Morgan’s ten points. The lead swelled to 14 at the half at 27-13. After the break, however, the Lady Dogs did not play well in the third period. Sloppy ball handling along with some cold shooting allowed the Lady Panthers to stay in the game keeping the lead at 14. MOCO got a nice lift from Lou Reid and Davis who scored all nine points of the period, but the 36-22 score still kept Jackson within striking distance.
The Lady Dogs went on a 21-point scoring barrage in the fourth quarter to put things away for good as they coasted to the 57-36 win. This was Morgan’s second region win in a row.
Friday was an important rematch with Franklin. The Lady Lions had taken the first win from Morgan on the road and are currently undefeated in region play at 5-0. Morgan played one of their best games of the season against a solid club, but came up a little short.
The Lady Dogs led this one for three quarters looking to pull off the upset. Both squads were putting up big numbers in the first stanza. Aris Hubbard had a big night in the paint scoring eight points in the quarter along with a put back at the buzzer to give Morgan the 24-17 advantage. Franklin kept it close hitting three jumpers beyond the three-point line.
Morgan gave Franklin a little of their own medicine in the second period when Davis, Reid, and Woodard connected on three-pointers of their own. Cailee Anderson is playing more minutes off the bench as she shows more confidence with each game she plays. Anderson played well inside getting a bucket near the end of the half as the Lady Dogs stretched the lead to 40-30.
Franklin came out in the third quarter on an eight-point run to cut the lead to two at 40-38 before Morgan could stop the bleeding. Salina Fortune hit from inside with 3:20 remaining and Woodard made a three before it was all said and done. The Lady Dogs went into the fourth quarter still up 51-46.
Davis hit a layup to start the fourth before a bizarre event took place that had fans, coaches, and players wondering what just happened. In a game where only seven free throws had been attempted by both teams combined in the first three quarters, Franklin shot nine foul shots (making six) in a span of about two minutes. One of those fouls resulted in a technical foul on a Morgan player that had Coach Josh Reeves fuming. After the dust cleared, the Lady Lions trailed by only one at 53-52. On their next possession, Franklin hit a three to take the 58-55 lead. However, Davis refused to let her team go down like this. She made a tough two-pointer and followed that up with a long three to give Morgan the lead with 3:15 remaining in the contest. Franklin answered to tie things up at 60 apiece and then hit a one-and-one. Hubbard was fouled and made one to put the Lady Dogs within one at 62-61 before the Lions closed things out with free throws and a bucket at the buzzer. Final score: 66-61.
“The Franklin County loss was a tough loss. I feel like we are prepared feel like we deserve the win but we just didn’t get a couple calls to go our way and the outcome was not what we wanted. The girls were great defensively and I’m so very proud of their effort in the game. If there’s such thing as a great team loss that was it. We’re gonna keep working and hopefully get a couple of wins going towards the region tournament. Great individual offensive efforts by Tot, Autumn and Salina.”