By R. Alan Richardson
The Lady hardcourt Dogs rode an at-large bid to the Sweet Sixteen this week as they took down the Kendrick Lady Cherokees 48-35. The girls are now 18-7 overall after the win over the number one team from Region Four. Kendrick upset Peach County in the Region Championship game only to have to face the Lady Dogs in the first round as an at-large, fourth seed from Region One. The Lady Dogs are currently ranked number eight in Class AAA while Kendrick came in as number 23 with a 15-11 season record.
The Lady Dogs will now face the Johnson-Savannah Lady Atom Smashers currently ranked right above Morgan at number seven and 17-8 for the year. It will be a big test for MOCO this Wednesday as they will travel to Savannah and play them on their home floor. Johnson is the number two seed out of Region Three behind Beach, the number one seed and number one team in the State in AAA.
The Kendrick game saw the return of senior point guard Lou Reid. Her presence and leadership on the floor has been missing over the past few games as she continues to battle a torn labrum in her right shooting shoulder. Reid played, but did not start the contest. She still led the scoring with 14 points. Coach Josh Reeves said, “We tried to use her sparingly and about three to four minutes at a time. It caused us to have to adjust our substitution patterns. We knew she wouldn’t be as effective from the three-point line due to the brace that limits her range of movement, but she did make a couple of longer two-pointers and drives to the basket. She’s sort of a game manager. When she’s in, the game just goes more smoothly. She calms the team.”
Morgan got good production out of changing defenses from their full and half court zone pressure along with some aggressive 2-3 zone and Man-to-man defenses, according to Reeves. Offensively, it was the guard play of Reid, Tamia Benford and Miranda Powell who carried the load. Benford and Powell each had 12 while junior Taylor Wilson added eight. The Lady Dogs negated the inside presence of Kendrick with their uptempo style of play and took their bigs out of the game early. Neshay Cobb had some early foul trouble, but Tiana Adams came off the bench to fill that void. She grabbed eight rebounds, scored two points and took a big charge during crunch time. Reeves noted, “The difference in the game was our tempo and aggressiveness going to the basket. We didn’t shoot that many three’s, but we didn’t have to. We wanted to make them play defense and disrupt them on both ends of the floor. They had some fast guards so we also didn’t want to give up too many fast break opportunities. It was a good win for us on the road.”
The girls will now have to make another long road trip. Going in as an at-large bid and number four seed will do that to you. “Johnson is a strong team and ranked number two in some polls. They play a tough schedule and have really good guard play. When you’re in the situation we’re in, you’ve got to go through some tough teams to get there. They don’t have the inside game with big girls that they’ve had in the past, but their guards are really hard to contain. They are one heckuva team. Over the past few years, the girls’ State Championship goes through Savannah and this year is no different. At this point, you gotta go all out, be aggressive and play Morgan County basketball. It will be a game between two good teams. We just have to do what we’re supposed to do and come out on our terms playing our brand of basketball,” said the Head Coach.
State Basketball Playoff Information:
Wednesday, February 20 @ Johnson (Savannah) – Tipoff at 6:00pm
Thursday, February 21 vs. Greater Atlanta Christian – Tipoff at 7:00pm
All tickets will be $7 as set by the Georgia High School Association.