By R. Alan Richardson
After having ripped through regular season region play undefeated at 10-0, the Bulldogs once again showed their strength in an encore in the 8-AAA Region Tournament. They took home the title by defeating Hart County 57-44 on Thursday and absolutely destroying Franklin County 66-35 in the finals on Saturday. The games were played at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs where the Dogs have owned the tournament for the past several years. It’s a second home court for Morgan.
Behind the play of All-Region selections Tyrin Lawrence, Anthony Cooper, and player-of-the-year Alec Woodard, the number one seeded Dogs finished what they started. It remains to be seen how far this young team can keep up this kind of play in the state playoffs. Why do we say young? Well, Cooper and sharp-shooter Yusuf Baig are juniors while Lawrence, Woodard, Stevin Greene, and Jordan Huff are only sophomores. This group should be difficult for opponents for the next few years.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams will play host to the first round of the state playoffs. The Morgan County faithful will pack the Dog House for these events coming up this week. Loud and Proud!
MOCO took out the Bulldogs of Hart County in some cat-and-mouse tactics employed by Hart in the second half. The Dogs led comfortably at the half 34-22. However, with Morgan shooting poorly from outside in the first stanza, Hart went to zone defense tactics. Coach Jamond Sims decided to force Hart to play man-to-man by holding the ball for about four minutes. No one scored or even took a shot during that span and it worked out pretty well for Hart. The visitors outscored Morgan 10-5 in the third quarter to cut into the lead. Hart trailed 39-32 at the end of the period before the Bulldogs pushed things up a notch to outscore Hart 18-12 in the fourth to take the 57-44 victory.
It was now time to play for all the marbles against Franklin County in the finals. Emmanuel College is located in Franklin County so the Lion fans showed up in droves to cheer on their boys. They didn’t have much to cheer for after the first quarter.
Both teams seemed a little nervous and tight to start the game. Franklin took an early four-point lead before Baig nailed a three-pointer and Woodard hit a bucket to take the lead. It would be a lead that the Dogs would hang on to the remainder of the evening. The first quarter score ended at 12-6 in favor of Morgan. Six different players scored in some unselfish play shown by MOCO as they went on a seven point run to end the first eight minutes of play.
Senior Jermaine Alexander stepped up in the second showing off his blue collar style of play by blocking shots, getting after 50-50 balls and rebounding like a mad man that he followed up with put backs. Josiah Mitchell and Lawrence played major roles on offense as well as playing some nasty defense that created turnovers and easy shots for the Bulldogs. The Dogs had doubled the score on Franklin at the half as they led 39-18 in what became a blowout after the intermission. Morgan coasted to a 51-28 third quarter lead that the Bulldogs built on to win by 31 points (66-35).
Morgan’s boys and girls will play host to the first round of the state playoffs this weekend. The boys will play at 7:00 PM against Adairsville.
Let’s get behind our teams, players, and coaches by filling up OUR seats to pull them through to victory and, hopefully, another trip to the Final Four.
Admission is $10.00.