The MCHS Lady Dogs’ basketball team lost to number three ranked Haralson County 53-40 to end their season on the road in the second round of the State Tournament. Reaching the Sweet Sixteen was no small task for this undersized group who also finished as the 8-AAA Runner-up to Franklin County. They will be remembered with terms such as tenacious, gutsy, hard-working, unselfish, team oriented, defensive-minded, and fun to watch. Coaches Josh Reeves, Timothy Roop, Sharda Massey, and Candi Wyatt got as much mileage out of this scrappy crew as was possible and should be proud of their accomplishments.
Haralson proved to be an imposing, talented, and well-coached team deserving of the Elite Eight. The Lady Dogs did not go quietly into the night, only trailing by six with two minutes remaining in the third quarter 31-25. However, a late surge pushed the lead to 10 at the end of three quarters. Morgan got the lead down to nine on two different occasions in the final period only to see the Rebelettes answer. It was a valiant effort that came up short, but a proud performance none the less.
Morgan started slowly in the opening period as they worked to try and solve the 1-1-3 matchup zone of Haralson. The Dogs missed some open shots early and didn’t score until the 2:38 mark after their opponent reeled off the first six of the contest. The girls settled in after that. Lou Reid stepped up her game scoring six first quarter points as MOCO trailed 10-8.
Alexis Boykin scored 12 of Haralson’s first half 22 points on her way to a 24 point night. Morgan used a balanced scoring attack to keep things close at the half 22-15. Sophomore guard Tamia Benford scored four of the Lady Dogs’ total in the second quarter.
Reid pulled Morgan to within five at 22-17 on the first possession of the second half, and Miranda Powell hit two big three-pointers in the third quarter before Haralson went on a 7-2 run to end the quarter. The Rebelettes led 36-26.
The Lady Dogs simply could not put up enough offense to get the win in the final period. Reid ended the night with 11 and Powell added 10 in the loss.
Coach Josh Reeves gave these comments about the Haralson game that ended their season. He said, “I felt like we executed our defensive game plan as well as we could, but struggled on the ball against their best player. We did a great job of chasing their outside shooters off the three-point line and closing on them. They just maintained possessions after we ran them off and got some fouls or inside shots. It was a tough game for us shooting the ball, and a bad game for us to be cold from the outside. We got the exact shots we wanted and thought we would get against their 1-1-3 zone on skip passes and at the elbow. It was just one of those games where we couldn’t make them. 9-10 times we make those shots.
The girls stepped up and played hard the entire game. Tamia (Benford) was great on the ball, but they fouled out our best player (Lou Reid) and Aris (Hubbard) had three early. It really hurt us in the third and fourth quarters. We want our team to play aggressively, but there’s a fine line between being aggressive and making bad fouls. The officials allowed some contact, but you have to adjust to how they’re calling the game. There were a couple of opportunities in the second half to really put the heat on them and pull to within four or five. Our inability to hit shots when we needed to and their outstanding point guard was the difference in the game. Our side of the bracket is a good one. Haralson was aggressive and have some three-year starters that were ready to get past the first couple of rounds. They got over the hump with the win.”
He continued with these thoughts on the season. “I think gritty describes this team as well as any other term. The way they played defense and the never-say-die attitude gave them the sense of never feeling out of a game. That’s a good quality to have if you’re going to be a good basketball team. We lost a two-time player-of-the-year (Tatyana Davis), and two All-Region selections (Autumn Woodard, Selena Fortune) as well as key pieces around them. Our question going into this season was ‘Who was that next person up?’ As we got to the middle of the season we found those people. Jamie (Puckett) became our defensively-minded unselfish player in the middle and filled a starting role early in the season. There were a lot of others that stepped up all season long. We grew up a lot during the season. Early in the year it seemed like we couldn’t win a close game. By the end of the season we ended up winning most of them.”
Reeves summed things up like this, “I’m real proud of what we got out of the girls. They made great strides during the season and towards the future of this program. Many of them got meaningful minutes that made us a better team because of it, and will make us better next year. I can’t say enough about our three seniors and the leadership they brought to the table for us. Jamie, Aris, and Morgan (Walker) will be missed and their shoes will be hard to fill for us next season. All three of them are as good as it gets when you talk about quality individuals and the character they have. Even though we are sometimes overshadowed by the boys because they are so awesome, I think everyone would agree that it was another great season for the Morgan County girls.”