Newton upset falls short for Lady Dogs

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This is not the first time you’ve read this line in one of our basketball articles.  The Morgan County girls’ team is not one that teams will want to face in the region tournament and beyond.  After facing a brutal schedule this week, it is obvious to all that the Lady Dogs are getting better with every game.  Friday they pounced on the Panthers of Jackson County 69-23, but suffered losses to the AAA top-ranked and undefeated Franklin County Lady Lions 59-36 and Newton’s 7-A fourth-ranked and region-leading Lady Rams 65-57.  These weren’t bad losses, they were close and closer.

In possibly their best basketball of the season, the Lady Dogs put a scare into the Newton Lady Rams Saturday night before a packed house.  A great shooting performance by the team, but especially from guards Lou Reid, Miranda Powell, and Morgan Walker gave MOCO a shot at winning the game in the waning minutes of a great ballgame.

The girls fell behind in the first quarter on a flurry of offensive rebounds and putbacks that put them behind 15-9 with Reid already showing that this was going to be a good night out for the junior.  She had six of Morgan’s first nine.  The second quarter opened up much the same.  After a three from NBA range, the Lady Rams got still another offensive rebound to take a commanding 23-9 advantage.  It didn’t look good at that point, but Morgan wasn’t going to roll over and play dead.  Neshay Cobb hit a tough inside bucket off glass followed by a driving layup from Walker.  Reid and Powell added two quick scores, Aris Hubbard got fouled and made one of her two attempts, and Powell hit a monster three to cut the lead to six at 21-27.  Newton, however, made a three and hit 3-4 from the charity stripe before the half ended at 33-21.  It was again a double digit lead that the girls had to overcome.

The third quarter stayed even until Powell hit two more three-pointers and Reid added another toward the end of the period to bring the Dogs to within eight at 49-41.  The fourth quarter was a wild one.  Baskets by Reid, Tamia Benford, Hubbard, and Walker plus two big free throws by Taylor Wilson brought the crowd to their feet as the girls went on a 10-3 run to close within one with 3:24 remaining.  It was back-and-forth after that with Morgan tying the game at 54-apiece after a Powell free throw with 2:27 showing.  Morgan tied the score at 56-all on a Reid jumper with 1:46 on the clock.  Newton came roaring down the court to get an old-fashioned three-point play to take the lead back for the final time.  They then hit four straight from the line with 1:03 and :40 seconds remaining for the seven point advantage and then shot a layup on a late Morgan turnover to grab the win 65-57.  Morgan could only manage one point in the final 90 ticks that sealed their fate.  It was a valiant effort from a young team that is maturing with every game.  Reid led the team with 17 points, Powell had 14, and Walker added nine for Morgan.

Rams’ Coach Tiffany Johnson said, “Morgan shot the ball extremely well tonight as our defense was not where it was when we left off.”  Due to weather Newton had not practiced or played since Tuesday.  She continued, “We’ve had some close games, especially early on, so maybe we’re beginning to play better in adversity and feel more comfortable.  We just made some big plays and made a little run at the end.  It was a good win in a great atmosphere.”

In the East Jackson win on Tuesday, Reid had a monster offensive game with 24 points.  Another good sign for Morgan was watching 11 players get in the scoring column to give valuable experience to some important substitutes as things near playoff time.  Taylor Wilson had a nice game scoring 15 points, eight of which were in the fourth quarter.

Morgan gave Franklin a run for their money Friday, but the depth and experience of a talented squad got the best of MOCO in the second half.

Next up for boys, girls, and JV teams is a road game at East Jackson Friday, Jan. 26 starting at 4:30.

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