By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan County’s Lady Bulldog basketball team captured the 2018 Sweet South Championship by lapping the field in wins of 29, 38, and 14 points over Apalachee, Lambert, and Veterans respectively. The final scores were 64-35 over Apalachee, 70-32 over Lambert, and 69-55 in the Championship game over Veterans. The girls are starting to flex some muscle and show why they will again be a force to contend with in the AAA Region and State Tournaments. They are now 11-3 overall with the meat of the Region schedule coming after the break.
Morgan is currently ranked number four in Class AAA behind Beach, Jefferson, and Dawson County despite having beaten Jefferson in a home game earlier in the season. Lou Reid was named MVP of the tournament while backcourt mate Miranda Powell grabbed All-Tournament honors for her play.
The Sweet South featured some talented teams, but Morgan dispatched of Apalachee handily in the first round of play. Taylor Wilson had one of her better nights offensively scoring 14 (11 in the first half) while Reid poured in 17 and Powell added 12. The second round had Morgan trouncing an overmatched Lambert team. It was 17-5 after one quarter and spiraled out of control from that point. Tamia Benford scored 15 in the win along with Powell’s 13 and Reid’s 12. Everybody got in on the action in this one.
The Championship game was a good test for the girls as they faced off with Veterans High School out of Kathleen, Georgia. The Lady Warhawks came into the contest sporting a 12-1 record and ranked fourth in AAAAA. Morgan continues to rely on a stingy and tenacious defense that includes their man-to-man full and half court, and they are mighty good at it. Creating turnovers throughout the night gave the Lady Dogs opportunities at easy layups and free throws when fouled.
Veterans kept things close the first quarter with their athletic inside play. One Achilles heel was their misses on easy putbacks and layups they should have converted. Powell was on fire in the first half hitting three three’s and Reid contributed 12 in the first half. Morgan jumped out to a 14-point 34-20 advantage at the half.
Veterans came out smoking in the second stanza hitting three straight three-pointers before the Dogs could respond and cutting the lead to 34-29. Reid and Powell again rose to the occasion scoring 11 straight for Morgan while Benford added four more to take the 52-37 lead into the final eight minutes. Free throw shooting down the stretch was the difference. After Veterans closed the gap to within seven at 58-51, Coach Josh Reeves called timeout and went to a cat-and-mouse stall game with 3:23 remaining in the game. Over that span the Lady Dogs nailed 11-of-14 free throws to seal the win and the Championship. At one point, Morgan connected on 11 straight from the line.
In other basketball action over the previous weekend, the Lady Dogs took third place at the Sequoyah Warrior War Lodge Classic by defeating Alpharetta in first-round play 60-33 before falling to Collins Hill 54-48 in second-round play. The received the third-place trophy after defeating Cambridge 78-30. One of the highlights of that weekend was the loss to Collins Hill. That might be difficult to understand unless you know that the Lady Eagles are 15-1, ranked 112 nationally, third overall in the entire state, and number one in Class AAAAAAA. Morgan was in the lead with just a few minutes remaining before one of Collins Hill’s two major D-I signees blocked several shots that led to easy baskets and the win. Those two girls have signed with the University of Georgia and Purdue University.
Next up will be home games for all four teams Jan. 4 starting at 4:00 p.m.