By R. Alan Richardson
It’s been a great season for the Morgan County girls’ basketball squad. Under first-year head Coach Timothy Roop, the schedule wasn’t an easy one. That trial-by-fire had its benefits though. By the time the team got to the Region and State Tournament, they had been battle-tested. And, the rigorous schedule paid off.
MOCO finished 15-15, ended up second in the regular season Region schedule, took second at the Region Tournament only behind a stout Jefferson squad, and made it to the Elite Eight before being outsted by a strong North Hall team this past week 57-41.
The Lady Dogs had trouble getting in a rhythm in the early going in a packed-house at North Hall. The hostile environment along with foul trouble for one of Morgan’s best players, Tamia Benford, proved to be too much for the girls to overcome in the end.
Trailing 5-0 at the 4:42 mark in the first quarter, Morgan finally got on the board with a Taylor Wilson coast-to-coast layup. Benford then hit a three to close the gap to 7-5. Every time Morgan got something going offensively, the Lady Trojans seemed to have an answer. They made good on an old-fashioned three point play and hit a deep three-pointer from beyond the arc to go up by 10 with 2:16 in the first quarter. Ballhandling errors also led to easy buckets as MOCO turned it over on three straight trips down the court. Morgan trailed by 10 at the end of the period 19-9.
Without Benford in the lineup in the second quarter, the Dogs continued to struggle offensively falling behind by as many as 15. Senior Neshay Cobb played what many would consider her best career game in what would be her final game in a Lady Dogs’ uniform. She began to assert herself on both ends of the floor in the second quarter coming up with two big blocks and killing it on the offensive glass. Her stellar play continued through halftime and the remainder of the night. She put the team on her back and kept them in it.
After trailing 32-19 at intermission, Cobb grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 7:42 in the third to give the Dogs a lift. She did it twice more in succession to help cut the lead to eleven at 38-27 with 4:04 remaining in the period. But, as previously noted, North Hall had an answer for every run Morgan could muster. It was a valiant effort against a fine opponent. As a side note, North Hall lost to Beach in the Final Four 52-31. They ended the season 23-9.
Coach Roop said, “I am so proud of this group. It was a really tough loss for this group of seniors. We’ve struggled through injuries and tonight we had foul trouble. All-in-all I am so proud of these girls. They left everything they had on the court. That’s all I could ever ask for.”