From scores of 6-6 to 50-50, the Morgan County vs. North Hall basketball game was one of ties and changing leads until the fourth quarter. With 4:50 left in the final period and the game knotted at 50-all, the Lady Dogs’ basketball team, and sophomore Taylor Wilson with seven points, went on a 14-2 run that put the Lady Trojans away. The late run could have been due to exhaustion on the part of the visitors in having to contend with the tenacious man-to-man full court pressure exerted by Morgan the entire second half. There was nowhere to hide with the likes of Wilson’s, Lou Reid’s, Tamia Benford’s, and Miranda Powell’s unrelenting defense for 93 feet. It was a great win to put the girls into the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth straight time. They will face the number three ranked Lady Rebels of Haralson County on February 21 at 6:00 p.m. in Tallapoosa.
The first quarter was a story of runs by each team that saw both teams go ahead or share the lead on three different occasions. North Hall was definitely in charge of the boards on each end. Those second chance opportunities gave them a 16-12 lead before Morgan closed out the quarter on Reid’s two baskets and a free throw by Wilson to regain a 17-16 lead at the buzzer.
The offensive rebounding and missed layups continued to plague the girls in the second quarter as North Hall took their biggest advantage of the game 26-21. The opposing fans were having the time of their lives as the half ended 32-28 Lady Trojans.
Coach Josh Reeves made a great adjustment at the half going from his zone press to man press and it was eventually the difference in the game. He said, “Our full court man-to-man is our go-to defense. This team is built to play that way so when things aren’t going well or we aren’t getting the turnovers out of our zone package, we always can rely on our man-to-man to make some things happen.” And, he was right. The quickness and depth of the Lady Dogs wore down the visitors in the closing quarter to come away with the win that sends them into the next round of State Tournament play.
Morgan was strong out of the gates to start second half play. After North Hall hit a three to go up by seven, the Lady Dogs, and particularly Reid, went on a 9-2 run to tie things at 37-apiece. Reid had five during the run and Wilson made two free throws with 54.3 remaining in the third to give MOCO a 41-38 lead going into the home stretch.
Morgan was clearly the better team in the final eight minutes outscoring the Lady Trojans 23-14 over that time. Aris Hubbard took over the boards and used her inside strength to score six points in the paint while another sophomore, Tamia Benford, was a whirling dervish on defense coming up with steals and converting those into five points to add to the total. It was a total team effort in the final period to get the 12-point victory.
Make sure to make the drive over to Tallapoosa to support the girls Wednesday, Feb. 21. They will need our support against a talented Haralson County squad. Game time is _______???