By R. Alan Richardson
In what most would have considered a major upset, the Morgan County High School Bulldogs ended their 2019-2020 basketball season coming up short to Franklin County in Carnesville this past Tuesday. The Dogs were fighting an uphill battle from the get-go with the Lions hosting this round of the Region 8-AAA basketball tournament.
In the do-or-die round of the number three seeded Lions and the number seven seeded Bulldogs, it was played in one of the last historic venues of the area. The old gym, called the Lion’s Den, was built around 1965 according to some knowledgeable spectators sitting around my cat bird seat. It brought back some great memories of watching an older brother playing there in 1972 when Morgan competed in the same region at the time. It would be many years later that the MOCO fans would get an opportunity to visit the elevated stands with the same old wooden high-backed bench seating and see the graduation stage on one end. It is truly a trip back in time. Some might call it a ‘Hoosier’s’ throwback.
This trip, however, was not one for the record books. The energy of the moment gave the home team and home crowd reason to be excited. They made the most of it. With Morgan leading 26-19 at the 3:16 mark of the second quarter, Franklin County reeled off 14 straight points to grab the lead and the momentum going into the second half 33-26. It was all Franklin after that.
The Dogs played solidly for the first 13 minutes of the game with sophomores Malachi Hardy, Desmond White, and Ty Butler keeping the Lions at bay. Trailing 16-11 at the end of the first period, it was Butler, senior AJ Brown (playing the final game of his career), and Hardy who came up with big buckets to take that final 26-19 lead of the night.
The third quarter was not kind to the Dogs as Franklin extended the halftime lead out to 53-35 and ended the night in the final score of 65-48. The Lions will now face off with Jefferson’s Dragons for the Region Championship. That game was played Monday night.
Starting as many as four sophomores during the season, Coaches Jamond Sims and Brian Green did an outstanding job grooming this young squad for the next two years. It wasn’t the kind of season they would have hoped for finishing with a 3-22 record, but the experience gained will pay dividends for the next two seasons.