By R. Alan Richardson
The Lady Dogs took on the number one ranked team in AAAAA and number three ranked team in the entire State this week, the Lady Wolves of Buford. They are the reigning State Champs from this past season, and only seem to reload even after graduating three Division-I players from a year ago. Morgan lost the contest 62-36, but in the mind of Coach Josh Reeves, “The game did what it was supposed to do.” Pressing him on that statement, he said, “Certainly, we would have liked to have played them closer and even win, but Buford is Buford. If you play Buford and come out feeling bad about yourself, that’s not why you play them. You play them to get better and that’s the number one thing. It also helps with your mental toughness to play teams like them. After the loss, we came back and had the best three days of practice we’ve had in a long time. It makes you reassess yourself and your team. After watching the film, the girls realized they have got to go hard in every drill and especially in our conditioning drills. I think it will help us in preparation for our first Region game with Franklin (this past Tuesday at Franklin) and throughout our tough 8-AAA schedule.”
Reeves has always scheduled tough in the early going and this year is no different. After playing a highly-ranked Madison County team in a pre-season scrimmage, the Lady Dogs have faced off with three 7-A teams along with Buford. That kind of schedule will get you ready in a hurry. Reeves continued, “We succumbed to what Buford does, but we didn’t roll over either. They pressure you with their 1-2-2 press and force you into uncharacteristic mistakes. We fought back to within seven or eight points. They sped us up, we turned it over a couple of times, and they hit back-to-back three’s. All of a sudden, it’s back up to a 15 point lead. They are a grind to play, but the girls never quit.”
Morgan will now take on the defending 8-AAA Region Champions, Franklin County. Franklin is currently ranked sixth in AAA after losing several starters from that team. Sophomore Bailey Breedlove is the lone starter returning in the lineup having scored 32 of her team’s 50 points in an earlier game this season.
The early rankings have Jefferson at number two, Franklin at six, and Hart at seven in AAA on MaxPreps. MOCO is sitting not far behind at number eighteen. Don’t ask why they are more highly ranked. They should be. Morgan gave Franklin all they could handle in last year’s Region Championship Finals. The Region will again prove to be a test for the frontrunners. When asked who he thought that team might be, Reeves said, “Outside of our team, Franklin is the frontrunner. They’re the defending Region Champs. Until somebody knocks them off, I guess they are the team to beat, but Jefferson and Hart will also be tough.” Jefferson defeated Hart in an earlier tournament a few days ago.
Morgan will find out a little more about how they stack up with two games vs. Franklin over the next week. “I feel if we do our jobs and shoot the ball well, we have a good chance of beating them. We’ll get our game plan in today (Monday) and see what happens. We don’t want to get tired like we did against Buford. That’s why the girls have been busting it all week,” noted Reeves.
Lou Reid is back in the lineup after nursing a partially separated shoulder and Taylor Wilson is getting back to form after coming off a severely sprained ankle. When the team is at full strength, according to the head coach, they should be able to go 9-11 deep on any given night.
The starting lineup of Reid, Wilson, Tamia Benford, Miranda Powell and Neshay Cobb will be ably backed up by Kourtney Elder, Shay Brown, Arkesia Williams, Victoria Chapman and Miracle Hunter. Reeves also mentioned newcomer Reign Williams as another player who is getting back into the game after not playing as a freshman.
He likes her muscle inside and mentioned what a joy she is to coach. He said, “Most of our backups and role players are juniors getting a lot of early game playing experience. That should bode well for us down the road this year and the next.”
The Lady Dogs only have two games over the next week. Both of those contests will be against Franklin on the road (this past Tuesday) and in next Tuesday’s home opener.
The Hart County away game you might see on the original schedule has been postponed to a date later in the season. See the upcoming schedule in this issue for all times and events for this week.