By R. Alan Richardson
Playoff basketball has its quirks. We got a little taste of that with the girls this week as they got an at-large bid and defeated Kendrick. An upset in the Region playoffs can throw a monkey wrench into any team’s plans. Greater Atlanta Christian was upset in the Region Championship game a little over a week ago. This put them into the State playoffs as a number two seed. After winning their first round State playoff game vs. Coahulla Creek 74-41, they are now set up to face our hometown Bulldogs this Thursday at the Bulldog Palace.
This one has major State Championship repercussions. Last year, the Spartans defeated Morgan County 73-71 in the Final Four round in overtime before going on to win the AAA State basketball Championship. This time things will be a little different.
Morgan’s number one seeding coming out of 8-AAA will give the Dogs the home court advantage when the two stalwarts face off at 7:00 Thursday this week. Morgan and GAC are currently ranked number one and two in Class AAA according to the MaxPreps most current poll. MOCO will have to be at their best in this grudge/revenge matchup from 2018.
In the Final Four matchup, GAC hit 13 three-pointers with nine of those coming in the first half alone. Despite the long-range efforts, Morgan only trailed by a couple of points at the intermission. Stevin Greene put on a show the likes that haven’t been seen in a while by scoring 34 and hitting a final second’s three-pointer to put the game into overtime. The heart-breaking loss is one the Bulldogs hope to avenge this week. It’s gonna be one for the ages. The Dogs will need every bit of help they can muster from their fans this Thursday. Playing to a packed-house will only urge them on to continue their quest for another State Title. BE THERE! BE EARLY! BE ROWDY!
In first-round action Morgan took care of the number four seed Redan from Region 5-AAA 69-51. The Dogs stumbled a little out of the gate, but a big second quarter gave Morgan the 12-point lead going into the half 29-17. The surge was led by seniors Alec Woodard who hit two big three’s in the period along with Tyrin Lawrence who scored seven, and Stevin Greene’s four. Malik Crawford has begun to show signs of making a big difference as well. His old-fashioned, and-one three-point play and a big blocked shot gave the Dogs some bounce going into halftime.
MOCO was again a little sluggish coming out after the break missing some easy shots to give the Raiders some room to make a run. They pulled to within seven points at 29-22 before Lawrence broke the ice with a long three that seemed to get the team rolling again. It was 45-31 with eight minutes remaining. Leading scorers were Woodard with 19, Lawrence with 16, Greene with 12, and AJ Brown with eight.
The Dogs went up by 21 in the fourth and held off Redan 69-51 in the final minutes to punch their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen and the rematch with GAC Thursday at 7 p.m. The Dogs are now 26-2 on the season, but will face their toughest test in the next round. GAC sports a 23-5 record overall having gone undefeated in regular season region play at 12-0. They are currently ranked number 18 in all classifications while Morgan is ranked eighth.
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.