By R. Alan Richardson
It was a tough week for Morgan’s girls with games against the number one ranked Jefferson Lady Dragons on Tuesday, Jackson County and Senior Night on Friday, and another game with Hart County Saturday. All of these games had major 8-AAA Region and even State implications.
The girls lost to Jefferson 68-55 Tuesday, but had a big loss in that one. Starting point guard Lou Reid went down to a shoulder injury that may keep her out for some time. She did not play in the Jackson County 60-33 whitewashing on Senior Night or vs. Hart in another tough 71-64 loss Saturday night.
Other seniors include Miranda Powell and Victoria Chapman. With only three seniors on this year’s squad, the future looks bright for Coach Josh Reeves’ program. Reid, a four-year starter, and Powell will be sorely missed for their offensive firepower, defensive prowess, and all-around play. Quite possibly the biggest thing they will be missed for is the leadership they bring to the floor.
The Lady Dogs came out of the brutal week at 16-6 overall and 8-3 in 8-AAA play. They are currently still ranked number two in the state, but that may likely change with the new rankings coming out this past Tuesday. Morgan is now in third play place in the Region standings behind Jefferson (10-1) and Hart (9-2) with Franklin in fourth place.
At the time, the Jefferson game pitted the number one and two ranked teams in the State with Morgan just behind the Dragons in the MaxPreps State rankings in AAA.
Friday, the Lady Dogs enjoyed celebrating their three seniors in a big win over the Jackson County Lady Panthers. Senior Victoria Chapman started the game for Morgan and got a free throw late in the game to get her name in the book. Powell continued her outstanding play at guard scoring 16 while Tamia Benford pumped in 14 and Taylor Wilson added 12. Kourney Elder was all over the floor defensively coming up with loose balls while diving full-out, grabbing rebounds, and busting it for her team. Freshman Shay Brown continues to show improvement and increased confidence coming off the bench. She had seven points in the victory.
Saturday’s contest with Hart was a great team effort on the part of the short-handed squad without Reid. The seven-point loss was one the girls could have won. This one could be chalked up to missed opportunities at the free throw line and easy shots that just wouldn’t fall on this night.
A back-and-forth first quarter ended with the Lady Dogs trailing 18-15. Wilson, Benford, and Powell accounted for all 15 points in the period. The inside play of Hart proved to be the difference in the half and game as Taniya Alexander scored 11 in the first half and 23 on the evening. MOCO stayed close at 34-30 going into intermission.
Western Kentucky signee Torrion Starks and Alexander continued to lead Hart in the third quarter scoring all of their 11 points. However, it was Benford and Wilson that gave the Lady Dogs some hope by scoring nine in that period. Miracle Hunter came up with an inside bucket late that moved the girls to within a basket. Morgan still trailed by four at 45-41 going into the final quarter.
Morgan took the lead with 6:04 remaining on a basket by Miranda Powell, but Hart answered with two foul shots and a basket to take the lead for good. Down the stretch Hart pushed the lead after Morgan missed two layups and had two consecutive turnovers that essentially sealed the deal for Hart. The final of 71-64 belies the fact that the girls gave a gutsy performance and played tough the entire night.
The Lady Dogs faced off with Monroe this past Tuesday in their regular season finale and will now look toward the Region 8-AAA Tournament at Hart County Feb. 5-9.