By R. Alan Richardson
For the fourth time in five years under Coach Jamond Sims, the Morgan County Bulldogs will take a shot at winning a State Basketball Championship Title. This time it will be against an old Region 8-AAA rival Hart County that they will face. This time will be the final shot for seniors Alec Woodard, Tyrin Lawrence, and Stevin Greene. This time will be for all the marbles at the Macon Centreplex at 8 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 7.
The Bulldogs rode the outstanding play of the “Big Three” to trounce the Windsor Forest Knights at Georgia Southern University in Savannah this past Saturday. The threesome combined for 62 points on the night as they strolled to an 82-63 win. Woodard led all scorers with 23 while Lawrence had 20 and Greene added 19. The points by Lawrence came even though he was sidelined with two fouls and did not play in the second period.
Coach Jamond Sims said, “They all three had fantastic shot selection early in the game and throughout the night. We took very few three-pointers and even those were wide open shots. Most of our shots came on drives and from mid-range in the first half.”
The early game action was fast and furious. Windsor Forest came out smoking hot hitting two three’s from downtown much to the delight of the Knights’ fans. That lasted for all of about a minute. Woodard answered with a three of his own and Lawrence got another the old-fashioned way to tie things up. The majority of Windsor’s points came off four from behind the arc in the first. Meanwhile in the first quarter the Dogs went on a 22-10 run to take a 28-13 advantage at the 1:14 mark. The quarter ended 28-16. MOCO took a big blow when Sims had to sit Lawrence out when he was saddled with his second foul in the first stanza. He had 11 in the first eight minutes while Greene hit two three-pointers of his 10 points and Woodard got seven of the total. The three seniors were in complete control scoring all 28 Morgan points.
The Dogs struggled a little offensively in the second period without Lawrence’s presence in the lineup. Trent Folds came off the bench to give his team a lift making some nice plays inside and contributing five for Morgan. The lead ballooned to 15 at 41-26, but Windsor came back strong late in the half. The lead was only 10 at the break 45-35. Woodard had 15 at the half.
The third quarter was one of the best of the playoffs for the Dogs outscoring the Knights 22-10 and taking a 25 point lead with 51.5 seconds in the quarter at 67-42. The ESPN top play-of-the-week came on a fast break opportunity in the third quarter started by Nolan Causwell. His outlet pass to Woodard led to a pass on the break to Greene. The little man went high for the pass on the right side and tossed a perfect, but very difficult, alley-oop to a streaking Lawrence coming down the middle of the floor. The high-flying nasty dunk that followed was the kill shot that broke the will of Windsor. It was a vacuum-creating dunk that had parents grabbing for little children to keep them from being sucked off their seats. The game was over at that point. One Savannah writer described it as a play out of the Harlem Globetrotters playbook.
The head coach stated, “Ty was itching to get back on the floor after experiencing the same scenario as last year with two early fouls in the same gym and even on the same end of the floor. When he did, he made the most of it. Everybody contributed in this one.” Woodard echoed that remark with, “It didn’t matter who was in the game or even if they got to play. Our whole team was a part of this one. Those guys who didn’t play much did a great job of preparing us at practice to win this one. It was a total team effort.” Also scoring for the Dogs were AJ Brown-6, Causwell-6, Malik Crawford-2, and Malachi Hardy-2.
Going into the Championship game, the Dogs may have one thing in their favor; experience. The Dogs have been there before. Woodard won a State Championship in his freshman year of 2016 and Lawrence and Greene were there the next year in the loss to a highly talented Pace Academy team. Last year’s loss in the Final Four against GAC has given these three young men a taste of the bright lights that come with a State Championship Title Game and playoff atmospheres. Let’s hope it will play into the Dogs’ favor.
You can see a breakdown and comparison of both teams in a separate article in this issue.