By Ryan Black
One quarter made all the difference in the Morgan County Lady Bulldogs 54-38 loss to the Eastside Lady Eagles Friday night.
After a jump-shot by Andrea Benford tied the score at 15-15 with 6:05 remaining in the first half, the Lady Bulldogs went scoreless for the rest of the quarter, and the Lady Eagles took advantage, going on a 12-0 run to go into halftime with a 27-15 lead.
Eastside then extended the lead to 33-15 coming out of the locker room before Morgan finally hit a three-pointer to end their scoring drought with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Though they tried to rally, Morgan was never able to cut Eastside's lead below 14 points in the second half.
And Eastside wasn't doing Morgan any favors at the charity stripe, either. The Lady Eagles shot 80 percent (20 of 25) from the free throw line Friday night.
Eastside's Raven Williams was the high scorer for the game, scoring 16 points and going perfect (8 of 8) from the free throw line.
For Morgan, Shadave Taylor and Tweety Hawkins were the leading scorers for the Lady Dogs with 14 while Benford added 7. Others scoring for the Lady Bulldogs included Kiera Smith with 5, and Jasmine Davis and Brionna Murray with 2 points each.
The loss drops the Lady Bulldogs' record to 9-4 overall, and 2-3 in region play.
By Ryan Black
The Morgan County Bulldogs got their first shot at beating region rival Eastside since losing to the Eagles in the Sweet South Classic in overtime on Dec. 30, 67-64.
At home Friday night, the Bulldogs didn't wait long to get their revenge, defeating the Eagles 62-48.
However, don't count Morgan head coach Charlemagne Gibbons among those painting this as a "revenge" game. No, he has his sights set higher than that. His focus is completely on positioning the team for a high seed when it comes time for the Region 8AAA Tournament.
"First off, (Eastside) is a rival game, since a lot of these guys play together during the summer," said Gibbons, "but more than anything else, this is a game that determines the seeding in our region tournament. So for us, that's the reason why it was a big game. You want to beat every opponent you play against, but for the seeding and for trying to get ourselves into the playoffs, it was a big game. Both of us were 1-0 in (sub-region), and we have a chance to get to 2-0 and establish ourselves as one of the best teams in our region going down the stretch."
Morgan jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, but by the end of the first quarter, Eastside had edged ahead 12-11 going into the second period. Back-to-back three-pointers by Rashaun Franklin and Deangelo Elder gave the Bulldogs a seven-point edge at 21-14 midway through the quarter, but the Eagles kept fighting back, cutting it to 25-24 with one minute left in the half. The Bulldogs responded to this by going on a 6-0 run in the final minute to take a 31-24 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was not kind to Morgan, as they scored only six points, missing both three-point attempts and shooting just 21 percent (3 of 14) on two-point field goals in the period.
By Ryan Black
Regulation was not enough time to decide the winner of Friday night's JV boys' game between Morgan County and Eastside, so with the score knotted at 39-39, they headed to a three-minute overtime period.
There, the Bulldogs kicked it into high gear and pulled out a 46-39 victory over the Eagles.
Tevin Lowe scored three of his game-high 14 points in overtime, including scoring the final two points of the game on a last minute lay-up.
"I thought the guys played hard," said Bulldogs head coach Jonathan Nelson. "The defense was there, because we only gave up 39, but I wish we had scored more points. Overall, I'm happy with the win."
The teams stayed close for the duration of the contest, with Eastside leading the entire game until late in the fourth quarter, when Brian Williams hit Morgan's only three-pointer of the night to give the Bulldogs a 38-37 lead with 1:25 remaining in the game. In the final minute, Eastside hit two free throws to Morgan's one to send the game to the extra period.
Morgan did have one last chance at winning it in the fourth quarter, but Michael Gray's shot went awry as time ran out in regulation.
Neither team would have had to go to overtime if they shot better from the free throw line. Eastside shot 42 percent (5 of 12) from the line, barely bettering Morgan's 38 percent (6 of 16).
Nelson says the team's struggles at the stripe is something that has been a recurring issue this year.
By Ryan Black
The Morgan County JV Lady Bulldogs went into Friday night's matchup against region foe Eastside undefeated at 5-0.
If there was any question whether they would remain unblemished, it was answered by the end of the first half.
Though the game was close at the end of the first quarter with Morgan holding a 6-3 lead, the Lady Bulldogs exploded for 26 points in the second quarter while holding the Lady Eagles to only six, taking a 32-13 lead into halftime.
Bulldogs never trailed en route to their easy 51-23 victory that gave them six straight victories to start the season.
Head coach Josh Reeves was pleased with their performance.
"I am very pleased with how the girls played on Friday," said Reeves. "We started a little slow, but ended with a fury. Although we shot the ball extremely well, we played great defense and got points off of turnovers."
Nine different players scored for the Lady Bulldogs against Eastside, with Averiana "A" Dennis leading the way with 14, Ashley Lewis had 10 and Marianna Swift scored six.
There were a slew of players with four points, those being Daja Davis, Shanice Lowe, Ashley Elder, and Ariel Williams, while Brionna Murray chipped in three points of her own. Latoyia Williams scored Morgan's last two points of the game, and that doubled as her total points scored in the contest.
How important is it to the team to stay unbeaten?
Not very much, if you ask Reeves.
"We are not worried about staying undefeated," he said. "Our focus is always on winning ball games, but we first must focus on getting better as a team."
For the second time this year Morgan County Middle School’s Stacia McClelland showed poise under pressure.
Coming off a time–out with six seconds left on the clock against Greene County last Wednesday, McClelland completed a lay–up with just seconds remaining to give Morgan County a 39–37 win over a team that beat the Lady Pups by eight points in their first meeting this season.
Against Monticello McClelland nailed a buzzer beater to give the Lady Pups a one-point win.
But the difference in the Greene County game, Head Coach Brian Cousins said, was a ferocious defense led by Lydia Cuyler that shut down Greene’s explosive offense. Cousins gave Cuyler the task to shut down Greene County’s point guard and she handled the job. Cuyler held the point guard to 10 points. Morgan led by 13 points at the half and were up by 10 going into the fourth quarter but a Greene County press got the Lady Tigers back into the game. Morgan County was down by a point with 16 seconds to go.
For the game, Carvetta Williams was the leading scorer for the Lady Pups with 18; McClelland had 10, Britany Belser had five and Deandra Reid had four.
Against Carver Middle School on Friday the Lady Pups notched another win to improve their record to 7–3. Morgan won the game 34–29, again with Cuyler holding Carver’s top scorer to a meager two points. For the game Williams had 13 points to pace the Lady Pups. McClelland had seven and Cuyler added to her defensive effort with six points. The Lady Pups are currently tied for second with Putnam County in the Piedmont Athletic Conference. They face Putnam County at home on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
For Morgan County Middle School Head Coach Milfred Franklin, last Wednesday’s Morgan versus Greene County was tough to watch.
Playing before a hostile Greene County crowd, the Bull Pups watched as Greene County put up 52 points in a 52–32 Greene County win.
“We hang our hat on defense,” Franklin said. “Apparently the nail must have come off the wall.”
Morgan County had 17 turnovers in the game and missed at least 10 lay–ups against a team that they beat 36–27 earlier in the year.
“We didn’t follow our game plan, obviously. Our team defense was nowhere to be found.”
Greene County led 20–12 at the half and increased the lead 33–22 at the end of the third. In the fourth quarter the Tigers padded their lead with a 19–10 run that gave them the margin of victory.
For the game Davon Gibbs led Morgan County in scoring with 12 points. Trent Hawk and Tez Mathis both had six.
The Bull Pups fared better on Friday against a Carver Middle School team that has recently lost three of it’s starting five.
Morgan County’s starters played the first three minutes of the game but were pulled in the Pups 50–23 win. Morgan jumped on Carver 19–3 in the first quarter, matched Carver with six points in the second but added 25 points in the second half to Carver’s 14.
Joseph Rogers led the Pups in scoring with nine. Quadarious Carter and Devorious Brown both had six.