After polishing off East Jackson 67-48 and Monroe Area 68-47 in important Region contests this past week, the Morgan County hardcourt Dogs will face quite possibly the greatest challenge they’ve had all season in the coming six days. Over that span MOCO will face two highly ranked 7A teams from Newton and Meadowcreek as well as region games with Jackson County and Franklin County stacked in between. Monday the boys will travel to Morehouse College to play Meadowcreek, Tuesday it’s on to Jackson, Friday they’ll travel to Franklin, and then return home for a battle with Newton. That’s a tough week in anybody’s book.
Morgan came out sluggish against East Jackson Tuesday and trailed 15-14 after the Eagles hit back-to-back three-pointers to end the first quarter. With six minutes remaining in the half, Coach Jamond Sims called a timeout and took his troops under the bleachers for a little heart-to-heart. No one knows what was said, but it’s a good bet that you wouldn’t have wanted your children within earshot. Whatever the magic words were, it worked. The Dogs came back on the floor with a different mindset. After a high-flying put back by Stevin Green on a missed shot, MOCO went on a 13-2 tear to take the lead and end the half 29-19.
The inspired play continued in the second half with Alec Woodard and Antonio Cooper going off offensively. Cooper had two dunks and another bucket during a four-minute 15-3 surge out of the break to double up the score at 44-22. Woodard hit a three and a driving layup to add to the damage. It was home free from there. The closest East Jackson could get after that was 54-41 in the win.
Woodard led the way on 10-of-18 shooting and 23 points to go along with his eight rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Tyrin Lawrence pumped in 17 going 7-8 from the field, Cooper added nine and grabbed four steals, and Quin Williams continued his steady play with six.
In the second region contest of the week, the Monroe Area Hurricanes visited the Dog House to much the same fate as East Jackson. MOCO came out hot scoring the first 12 points of the game that included three-pointers by Lawrence and Green and a thunder dunk by Lawrence before Monroe hit a three-pointer from deep with 4:36 remaining in the first and cut the lead to 18-14 on a quarter-ending flurry of free throws. Morgan was hit with a technical foul on a scoring book error that didn’t help their cause.
Woodard got his game going in the second quarter scoring 12 of the team’s 23. However, the Canes weren’t backing down and only trailed by eight 41-33 at intermission. Morgan’s defense was stifling after the half creating turnovers and holding Monroe to only four points in the third period. One of those came on a technical foul called on a Bulldog player. Their domination continued into the final eight minutes as the Hurricanes only had two baskets in the quarter. Their other points came off free throws as they watched Morgan widen the lead and finish them off 68-47.
The all-around game of Woodard was on display in this one as he finished with a game-high 28 points as he continues his hot shooting on 11-17 from the field to go along with his eight boards, five assists, and five steals. Lawrence ended the night with 13, Cooper had 11, Green 7, and Williams 6 for the Dogs.
The coming week will be interesting for the Dogs as they battle to keep their unbeaten record (17-0) intact against quality competition. Don’t miss the only home game of the week Saturday, Jan. 20 with action starting at 4:30 with the girls facing Newton followed by the East Hall vs. Jenkins boys at 6:00 and ending with the Morgan-Newton finale at 7:30 p.m.