Friday night’s first round matchup of the 2020 GHSA girls basketball state playoffs between Morgan County and Calhoun resembled an old-school session of seesaw. The teams traded as many as nine lead changes throughout the night, but it was the Lady Dogs moving on to their fifth consecutive “Sweet 16” appearance in the end with a 43-40 victory.
The Lady Dogs entered the fourth quarter with a 36-31 advantage, which proved to be the game’s largest lead by either team. However, the Yellow Jackets would not go away easily. Calhoun’s Mattie Jane Mashburn drilled a three pointer to tie the game at 38 with 2:30 to play. Taylor Wilson responded with Morgan County’s lone field goal of the fourth quarter to put the Lady Dogs back up 40-38. After a defensive stop, Shay Brown hit the front end of a one-and-one to extend the lead to three.
A Calhoun basket cut the Morgan County lead back to one with under a minute to play. The Lady Dogs began to eat the clock, forcing Calhoun to foul with 24 seconds remaining. Wilson again came up big for the Lady Dogs – this time from the foul line. The senior calmly sank both shots, which put her team up 43-40.
The last few seconds of the game proved to be as frantic as the previous 31 minutes. Morgan County made two defensive stops within the final 20 seconds, the last of which seemed to finish off the Jackets. However, a turnover by the Lady Dogs gave Calhoun one last effort. With just over one second remaining, the Yellow Jackets got off a three from the top of the key. The shot was online but just short – clanking off the front iron and giving the home crowd a huge sigh of relief.
The first half reflected the game’s final quarter. NeShay Cobb had four points from her post position during the game’s opening period, but Morgan County trailed 10-7 after one quarter of play. The Lady Dogs tied the score early in the second, and the teams traded baskets over the next four minutes. Calhoun looked to take a lead into the half with a three pointer near the end of the period, but Morgan County was able to push the ball back up the floor in time for Tamia Benford to connect from beyond the arc making the halftime score 23 a piece.
The first half of the third quarter proved to be the game’s major difference. The Lady Dogs came out of the locker room and used a stifling defense to pressure Calhoun. Morgan County converted four turnovers into points en route to an 11-6 run over the first five minutes of the quarter.
Morgan County will travel to Reidsville on Wednesday to take on Tattnall County. The Lady Warriors are 20-9 on the season and earned region two’s number one seed. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.