For the third time this season the Morgan County Basketball team entered a tournament, and for the third time came away unscathed and carrying home the hardware. Earlier this season the Bulldogs took the title at The Craig Sager Memorial Tournament at Dacula. They then traveled to Tallahassee for the Capital City Classic coming away with two straight wins against some of Florida’s best. This past week they polished off the trifecta by taking the championship of their own Sweet South Classic.
5’7” junior point guard Stevin Green was a veritable highlight show in taking home the MVP award. He said, “It’s a real honor to be chosen MVP out of all this talent surrounding me. The coaches always tell me to stay aggressive when I’m on the court and bring energy to the team. I tried to do it all with rebounding, steals, blocks, and scoring.” The little guy with the big game had breakout games of 20, 16, and 11 points, but it was his overall performance that garnered him the trophy. It was his defensive prowess, team-leading rebounds in the first two contests, and shooting percentages that caught the eye of his head coach in nominating him for the award. Ty Lawrence and Anthony Cooper were named to the all-tournament team as well.
Morgan got a 75-49 win in the first round over the KIPP Atlanta Collegiate Warriors and followed that up with one of their closer games of the season in a 72-67 victory over the Butler Bulldogs. In the Championship game the Bulldogs pulled off a 76-60 win to take home the trophy.
KIPP, a charter school from the Atlanta area, was no match for the mighty Bulldogs. Playing all weekend without the services of two of their key substitutes, Jordan Huff and Quin Williams (at all-star football games), MOCO got out early and let the thoroughbreds do their thing in transition and on the defensive end of the floor. Green led the scoring with 20 on 9 of 13 shooting, but Lawrence kept pace by adding 20 of his own. Alec Woodard contributed 15 going 11-11 from the line and grabbing eight rebounds. Latrabious Stokes and Cooper had nice all-around outings. Stokes played a solid floor game with five assists three steals and six points on 3-5 shooting. Cooper was 3-4 from the field and added six points, six assists, and three blocked shots in the win.
Morgan is at their best in the open court converting on 26 fast break points and shooting 52% as a team. However, the outside shooting has been a little off of late as the Dogs shot only 21% from beyond the arc.
In the first quarter Cooper set the tone with a driving dunk down the lane on Morgan’s first possession. However, with things locked up at 10-10, it was Green who ignited an eight point run to end the quarter with an offensive rebound and put back. It was 18-10 after eight minutes and 35-22 at halftime. The second half was more of the same. Another eight point run pushed the lead to 20 at 47-27 and the third quarter ended 57-30. The HIGHLIGHT of the second half was when play was stopped after Woodard scored his 1000th point with only 1:40 remaining in the game. The junior guard has started since his freshman year when the Dogs won their second State AAA Championship. He has a pretty good chance of reaching 2000 if he continues on the pace he’s on this year averaging 18 points per game.
On night two, the Class AA Butler Bulldogs of Augusta gave the Dogs a run for their money. Described by one of the assistant coaches as an ugly win, Morgan got the 72-67 victory to move into the championship round. Alec Woodard and Lawrence punched in 18 points apiece while Green got 16 and Cooper contributed 14. Stat highlights included Woodard’s 8-10 performance at the free throw line, Lawrence going 6-11 from the field to go along with his six steals and six assists, Green’s continued shooting performance going 7-12 from the field and 2-3 from three-point land, and Cooper’s 7-11 shooting before he fouled out. His foul troubles were key in keeping Butler in the game as he sat out significant minutes throughout the night. Despite getting only six fastbreak points, the Dogs dominated the boards with 20 second chance points and 20 more points off turnovers.
The Championship bout pitted Morgan against AAAAA opponent Morrow High School out of Clayton County. The 8-5 Mustangs kept things close, but it was a combined team effort by MOCO that prevailed in the end of the 76-60 win.
With things tight and Morgan leading 8-6 in the early going of the first quarter, the Dogs went on a 10-2 run created by quick hands, steals, and a Green three-pointer that forced a Morrow timeout with 2:14 to go. Morgan continued to pour it on and ended the quarter with a two-handed monster alley-oop dunk from Stokes to Cooper that brought the house down. It gave the Dogs a 26-13 lead going into the second quarter.
It was the free throw shooting that kept the Mustangs at bay in the second quarter as Morgan went 7-8 from the charity stripe and led 43-27. Woodard was again perfect from the line going 8-8 for the game and only missing two for the entire tournament. He was 11-11, 8-10, and 8-8 in the three games for a total of 27-29. Morrow was able to cut the lead in the second half to 12 on two occasions, but it was as close as they would get.
Next up for the Dogs will be the Region schedule against Franklin and Hart Jan. 2 and 5 with a non-region game vs. Heritage on Jan. 6.
See more boys basketball photos on page B4.