This one was over before it started. North Hall came into the Lions’ Den Saturday, but didn’t walk away unscathed like old Daniel did in Biblical times. The Trojans got mauled by a team that seemed more focused on their goal than a week ago in the Region Tournament as the Dogs took the 61-29 win.
Anthony Cooper and Alec Woodard got the party started in the first quarter scoring 13 of the team’s first 15 points while Tyrin Lawrence added six in the first eight minutes of play. Morgan led 17-3 with 3:07 on the clock when North Hall called a timeout to try and figure out the Bulldog press, but it was an effort in futility. The 1-2-2 zone pressure and man-to-man defense were too much for the visitors as turnovers resulted in easy buckets, dunks, and three-pointers. Morgan hammered the boards on both ends with their decided size and athletic advantage to take a 22 point, 38-16, lead into the half after Stevin Green and Woodard hit back-to-back three’s before the buzzer sounded.
It was more of the Cooper show after intermission as the Dogs scored the first 14 points of the second half to lead 52-16. Sims played his subs the remainder of the way as the Trojans finally scored with 1:30 to play in the third period. AJ Brown came off the bench to score a career-high eight points hitting two three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
The stat line showed Woodard leading the scoring column with 19 on 8-13 shooting, Cooper 14 (5-8), and Lawrence 10. Cooper grabbed nine of the team’s 43 rebounds while Lawrence and Woodard both had six steals. The Dogs got the tempo up in this one early that resulted in 12 fastbreak points and 30 points off turnovers. The rebounding advantage resulted in 15 second chance points.
Coach Jamond Sims commented, “At this point in the season, we have tried to make turnovers our point of emphasis as we move forward in the playoffs. Teams are going to be more defensive minded, so valuing each possession will be critical. I like our offensive execution and unselfishness right now, as guys are making a conscious effort to turn down good shots in order to get great shots.”
With the win the Dogs move onto the round of 16. MOCO will again host this game against a much better Towers High School team from Decatur. They are the number three team from Region 5-AAA sporting an 18-9 overall record. They were 8-6 in Region play losing to Pace Academy (a familiar name from last year’s State Finals) in the semi-finals of their Region Tournament 54-52. The Titans then demolished Redan in the consolation game 72-47 to take the third seed into the State Tournament. Towers is currently ranked as the number 10 team in Georgia’s Class AAA rankings on MaxPreps.
“With the upcoming game against Towers, we must be sure to control the tempo of the game and make it about half court executions, so we can neutralize their athleticism,” said Sims.
The second round game against Towers is a home game for the number one seeded Bulldogs. It will be a single game format starting at ________(fill in time) Thursday, Feb. 22.