By R. Alan Richardson
It was all Lady Bulldogs in the 2018-19 Region 8-AAA opener. Morgan County disposed of the Franklin County Lady Lions by an 83-43 margin in Carnesville as Lou Reid poured in 25 points to lead her team to the win. The win comes just days after a blowout loss to Buford that Coach Josh Reeves saw as a catalyst for his team. “The Buford game helped us to recommit ourselves to pushing harder in practice. The extra running is paying dividends. The girls said they never felt tired at Franklin unlike the Buford game. We’re not doing anything drastically different except for running more and getting our legs stronger between drills. It’s going to be even more important this coming week and into the season as we continue to try and improve our endurance over a long stretch as well as in individual games.”
The Lady Dogs moved to 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in 8-AAA action with the win. This week will prove challenging for MOCO’s girls as they square off with East Jackson (this past Tuesday) and Jefferson Friday. Both games are home events with varsity games starting at 7:00.
Reeves continued, “Franklin was missing one of their main players, but she certainly wouldn’t have made a 40 point difference.” Morgan was up by 50 before he emptied the bench and played his JV players the rest of the way. “Our 1-2-2 press looked as good as it ever has. We matched up with them all night out of the press into our scramble man-to-man. We played extremely well on both ends of the court.”
Miranda Powell continues to play exceptional basketball as she put up 22 points. Tamia Benford had 13 while Taylor Wilson and Shay Brown each added seven to the team’s total. Reeves also praised Neshay Cobb for her outstanding play in the paint. “She has to be mentioned,” the head man said. “Her third quarter play on defense carried us on a 10-0 run with back-to-back blocks she had on pure effort plays. Later, she made another highly productive block on a layup that led to a fast break. A couple minutes after that she contested another three-point shot in the corner that forced an air ball. We had to take her out after that due to the energy she expended on defense. She was a defensive wall there for about two minutes and was the difference in a big run and sixteen point turnaround on her defensive effort. You can’t help but be very proud of her. She’s worked hard to get where she is.”
According to reports from the game, Morgan went out early to a 10-point lead using their patented zone pressure, but the big play of the game may have come when an excessive foul was called against a Lady Lions’ player. With Benford loose on a breakaway layup, a frustrated Franklin play shoved and wiped her out. The foul gave Morgan free throws and the ball. More than that, it got the team fired up and the rout was on from that point. Reeves said, “I don’t know why she wasn’t kicked out of the game. Tamia was totally vulnerable and defenseless. I’m glad she wasn’t hurt.” Morgan led by 20; 45-25 at the break.
The play of Brown and Wilson were noted by Reeves. Wilson is showing an improvement after a layoff from a nagging ankle injury. He was also highly positive about his sophomore backup at center Miracle Hunter saying she gives the team a different type of presence inside. “She can catch and finish when she gets to her spot. She played well at Franklin.”
Morgan’s Lady Dogs played East Jackson earlier in the week (results in next week’s issue), but the big matchup of the week is Friday night vs. Jefferson. The new addition to 8-AAA is currently ranked number three in Class AAA behind Beach and Lumpkin County. They sport an unblemished record of 7-0 and are 1-0 in Region contests. Reeves noted, “They have a good, young team made up mainly of freshmen and sophomores. They have long and athletic players that we’ve seen on film. Coach Greg Brown is a good coach who brings a motion style offense, and they try to out-athlete you. We’ve got to make fundamental plays and play solid. They should respect us and I expect a good game. I just hope our A-game is better than their A-game.”
The win over Franklin should be a tone-setter coming into the week giving the Lady Dogs some momentum. Morgan has won four of the past five Region Championships losing last year to Franklin. According to Reeves, “If you want to get back on top, you’ve got to show them who is the team to beat.”
Military appreciation night was Tuesday and Recreation night will be celebrated Friday. The young girls will be honored by lining the baseline during pre-game warmups, running out with the team, joining them in the locker room, and coming out with the starters. “We are trying to encourage these young kids to stick with it and hopefully one day become Lady Bulldogs.”