By R. Alan Richardson
It wasn’t just any old celebration for the Morgan County Middle School basketball teams Friday evening. No, sir. It was a night of celebration for the final eighth grade teams to graduate from the historic Morgan County Middle School/Pearl Street High School facility. The celebration began with a resounding win in the girls’ contest on the court. It continued with a between games celebration to honor both the boys’ and girls’ teams off the court accomplishments. It ended in an upset victory by the boys over conference rival Loganville in exciting fashion. The old facility was sent out in a grand way and will be sorely missed.
The girls got things started off on Wednesday with a 40-16 throttling of Social Circle followed by a 32-28 loss for the boys against those same Redskins. Point guard Leah Spain and wings Kymora Smith and Jaden Young were instrumental in the win. Young was high scorer with 11 while Spain and Smith each added eight points to the total. According to Coach Bo Larkins, his team did not play their best in the loss, but vowed a better effort on Friday on Eighth Grade Recognition Night. And, boy did they deliver.
In the big win over Loganville, it was Hayden Crumbley having one of her finest outings of the season scoring 11 points in the 32-25 win. Both teams played exceptional defense and were well-coached in one of the better middle school games you’ll see. Spain and Young added five each for the Lady Dogs’ offense. The boys avenged the disappointing Wednesday loss with one of their best efforts of the season. Larkins said, “We got after it. We played so hard. I was so proud of those guys I about started crying after the game.”
After the lackluster effort against Social Circle, Larkins told us, “Plans A, B, C, and D didn’t work so we had to figure out how we could compete, and I guess that is to make it virtually a track meet.” In the Loganville win Jayden Dorsey had 10 points, but it was the down-the-stretch heroics of Darius Jackson and Chris Evans that sealed the deal. Jackson was all over the floor in the fourth quarter coming up with key steals and eight of his 11 points in the period while Evans came up big scoring six of his 12 total points in the latter stages of the game.
Coach Brian Cousins made these comments after Friday’s game, “We played really well against Social Circle as a team to move to 10-0 in conference play. Destiny Smith and Taniyah Briney played strong in the post position as Precious Benford was still out with an injury. We were able to get everyone in and gain valuable game experience. Friday was eighth grade night against a fundamentally sound Loganville team that currently is in second place. With the return of Precious and solid play from Hayden Crumbley we were able to move to 11-0. Our guard play again impressed led by Jaden Young, Kymora Smith and Leah Spain. On defense, we were able to keep Loganville’s talented center in check and limit the number of drives from their guards. We rebounded well and were able to knock down some clutch shots. This was a great way to end our home schedule and close out the middle school girls’ tenure at the Pearl Street Gym, as we will be moving to our new home across town next year. I am extremely proud of my girls and the hard work and effort they put in daily. We close out the regular season Wednesday at Monticello and then will be the number one seed in the Piedmont Athletic Conference Tournament. With the top seed, we will receive a bye and move straight to the semi-finals which will be held at Youth Middle School on Feb. 4.”
Larkins added, “I am so proud of the guys ending the week strong. Friday’s game was against a very good Loganville team. The guys had an opportunity to lie down after Wednesday’s game but they rallied together and put it upon themselves to keep battling. The energy from Eighth Grade Night and being the last basketball game ever played in the middle school gym was contagious. The guys were picking each other up, celebrating each other’s play, and were great teammates throughout the game. It was truly a team and community win.”