A week of region play, including two games that were very close at the end, showed the growth of the Morgan County High School Bulldogs basketball team. The Dogs went two-and-one on the week with an overtime win at home against Academy of Richmond County, a win at Burke County, and a loss to region leader, Cross Creek.
The MCHS Bulldogs played host to the Musketeers from the Academy of Richmond County last Tuesday in a region matchup that would be the first of four such games in a seven day period. To say the Dogs struggled out of the gate would be an understatement. The only points in the first period for the Dogs came from a Rogers Clarke baseline jumper. ARC closed the period with a 10-2 lead. The second period saw the Dogs add seven points but their defense kept them out of too much trouble as the score was 14-9 at the half.
Late in the third period, MCHS got the ball rolling by capitalizing on turnovers to go on a 6-0 run to end the period and cut the ARC lead to 25-20. The fourth quarter was a street fight with both teams trying to find a way to get footing to take control of the game. The Bulldogs clawed back and with the benefit of a missed ARC layup as time expired forced overtime.
During the four-minute overtime period, the strategy became to move the ball around the perimeter until you can find something close to the basket. This slowed the scoring down greatly, but MCHS Junior Desmond White’s contested three pointer from the wing changed the game when MCHS took a two-point lead with 25 seconds to go in the extra period. The Dogs held on despite a last-second foul on a three-point attempt that gave ARC the opportunity to extend the game. The Dogs clinched their first region win 39-37.
Thursday night, the Dogs were on the road for a make-up game at Burke County – another region game as the Dogs try to solidify their footing headed into the region tournament in coming weeks. They came away with a 71-65 win. The Dogs’ offense clicked all game using ball movement and a fast pace to keep the Bears on the defensive. The Dogs had a breakout night for Malachi Hardy with 20 points, Desmond White posted 17 points, and Anaury Warren added 14.
The Dogs closed the week with a match up at the region leading Cross Creek. Cross Creek packed in the paint with a 2-3 zone against the Dogs. The Dogs answered with a 3-2 zone of their own. The Dogs capitalized on offensive rebounds to stay in the game. Several passes through tight spaces allowed the Razorbacks easy looks to the basket and got them out to a 16-6 lead after the first.
The Dogs’ defense came up with a good stop to start the second period when Harrison Peaster knocked the ball away and Desmond White came away with it. Reggie Ross got the offense started for the dogs with a wing three pointer. The Razorback defense stayed in the zone and continued to jump on any pump fake outside the arc; respecting the outside shooting potential of the Dogs. The lead stayed at 10 for Cross Creek going into the half; 28-18.
The third quarter started with a back and forth battle. A Rogers Clarke three with five minutes to go in the third cut the CCHS lead to seven. The Anaury Warren three on the next possession cut the lead to four and the once pristine bow ties of the CCHS coaching staff were unfurled. A Desmond White three with just under two minutes to go got the Razorback coaching staff up and asking for a timeout to regroup their team with the lead cut to three. A Malachi Hardy layup off a fast break cut the lead to one with one minute to go in the quarter. A White layup with 20 seconds to go put the Dogs up one but a layup in response by the Razorbacks had the quarter end with the Dogs trailing by one, 35-36.
Opening the fourth, a jumper by CCHS was answered in the paint on the other end by Warren. A great move by Malachi Hardy got his defender on his heels and the ensuing shot put the Dogs up one with 6:25 to go. A pair of Razorback free throws on the next possession reversed the lead. A minute later, a Desmond White floater in the lane put the Dogs back up. After a time out, a deep CCHS three-pointer put the Razorbacks up two, and on the next possession, a deep three put them up five. The shots stopped falling for the Dogs and with two minutes to go, the Razorbacks pushed the lead to nine. The wind was taken out of the Dogs’ sails with 45 seconds to go and a turnover led to an easy bucket for the Razorbacks. The Dogs fell 54-41.
The Dogs were led in scoring by Malachi Hardy with 15 and Desmond White with 8. The Bulldogs will close the regular season slate Friday night at Harlem High School. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m.