By R. Alan Richardson
After a tough road loss to the Hart County Lady Bulldogs Tuesday 77-63, the Morgan County Lady Dogs (16-4) came back strong with wins over East Jackson 77-40 Friday, and the Newton High School Lady Rams 68-57 Saturday.
The loss may have derailed Morgan from the top spot in AAA, but they have an opportunity to avenge that loss this week at Jefferson. Jefferson’s girls took over the number one spot in AAA sporting a 17-2 overall record.
The Lady Dogs, at number two now, were only one of two teams to hand the Lady Dragons a loss this season by defeating them earlier in Madison 60-52. Hart County’s Lady Dogs hold down the number eight spot in AAA at 14-5 as of this past Friday.
MOCO still holds the number one spot in 8-AAA at 7-1 due to the defeat over Jefferson also at 7-1. This past Tuesday’s game at Jefferson will go far in determining who will be the likely leader headed into the playoffs and in the State standings this week. That game was played after this issues’ deadline.
Hart County is now 6-2 in third place while Franklin’s Lady Lions hold fourth at 4-5 in Region play.
Saturday’s rival rematch with Newton from a year ago showed why the Lady Dogs are currently in such high regard around the state. The 11-point victory over a quality AAAAAAA opponent looks good on their resume. Had it not been for some late scoring by the Lady Rams, this one could have been much worse.
Newton (8-12) kept things close for most of the first half. Miranda Powell rang up nine of Morgan’s first quarter 13 points to take a one point 13-12 advantage into the second period.
She continued her hot play scoring MOCO’s first four points of the quarter on a three-pointer and another free throw.
Lou Reid followed that up with an old-fashioned three-point play of her own to give the Dogs a 20-12 lead. Newton fought back to trail by only six at the intermission 28-22.
A huge third quarter breakout took Morgan on a 14-2 run and the 46-30 lead. They led by 18 at the end of the period 52-34. That lead ballooned to 20 early in the fourth. The defensive effort created turnovers and easy buckets for the Dogs. Junior guards Tamia Benford and Taylor Wilson were big during that run, but Newton made things interesting down the stretch. They cut the lead to 14 before Morgan righted the ship to take the 11 point victory. Unofficially, birthday girl Powell led the scoring with 25, Benford had 20, and Reid contributed 12. Wilson added eight in the win.
Coach Josh Reeves made these comments about the long week, “It was kind of an up and down week for us. We took a tough, tough loss at Hart, and didn’t play anywhere near our best basketball. We couldn’t find our rhythm offensively or defensively and just did not execute.” Benford led the way with 18 followed by Reid with 16 and Powell with 13.
He continued, “East Jackson was a game where we came out and took care of business like we needed to. We had a slow first quarter but we found our speed and opened up a 22 point lead by halftime. Overall it was a good effort by the girls.” Center NeShay Cobb had a career night with 12 points and 20 rebounds. Powell had 18 and Reid added 15 in the victory.
The head coach went on to comment on the final game of the week. “At Newton we played our most complete ball game in a while. The environment was great and the girls adapted to it quickly. We got in a little foul trouble early on but kept ourselves in the game with some great play by Miranda and Tamia. We jumped out to a great third quarter with some great defense and turned it quickly into offense on the other end. Miranda led the way with 25 on her birthday and Tamia wasn’t far behind with 20. NeShay was very instrumental on the defensive end with 5 blocks in the second half.”
This week is big for the Lady Dogs with the Jefferson game Tuesday followed by Region 8-AAA games at home vs. Jackson County Friday and a rematch with Hart on Saturday. The Jackson County contest will also be senior night. Friday’s games will start at 4:00 with JV while Saturday’s contests will be played earlier in the day. The JV teams will begin the action at 1 p.m. with varsity games beginning at 4 p.m. in the afternoon.