By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Clarke Central Gladiators held onto a perfect 16-0 season up until they had to face the Morgan County High School (MCHS) Hoop Dogs this past Monday, Jan. 20, at Berkmar High School’s MLK Shootout, when the Dogs handed them their first loss of the season, 76-67, in overtime.

Morgan County wasn’t a favorite to win this matchup against an opponent that made it into the AAAAA quarterfinals last season, and the Dogs had to battle from behind almost the entire game.

The Gladiators were able to build a 23-19 lead through the first quarter that expanded to a 43-33 lead at halftime.

The Dogs were able to reduce the 10-point lead down to only five points by the beginning of the last quarter, putting them in a great position to close the gap on Clarke Central.

With only two minutes left in regulation, Morgan County had tied the game at 62-62, but both teams held each other in a stalemate through the remaining time, sending the game into a first period of overtime.

The single overtime period was all the Dogs needed to put the nail in Clarke Central’s coffin. Morgan County came out strong, scoring quick baskets and building a secure 10-point lead while keeping the ball out of the Gladiators’ hands.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Dogs came out on top with a 76-67 victory. Tookie Brown, who scored 24 points against Clarke Central, was chosen “most outstanding player” for the game.

Last week, the Morgan County basketball program hit the road to face region opponents the Oconee County Warriors and the Hart County Bulldogs. The Morgan Lady Dogs put two more notches in the win column.

The girls beat Oconee County 59-37, before taking on Hart County, prevailing with a 56-38 final score. Wins by the Lady Dogs put their record at 7-1 in the region and 13-2 overall. The girls’ sole region loss was against defending region champs North Oconee, whom the Lady Dogs faced for the second time this season at home this past Tuesday, Jan. 21. Morgan County’s varsity boys beat Oconee and Hart Counties as well, scoring 64-40 and 60-35, respectively, to pick up those wins.

The Hoop Dogs’ overall record now stands at 14-4, while they are 7-1 in the region. Like the girls, the boys will face the opponent that gave them their sole region loss – in the boys’ case, the Elbert County Blue Devils – this week at home.

The Blue Devils will be making their way this Saturday, Jan. 25, to face the Dogs. With three sets of region competition taking place this week on the Hoop Dogs’ home court – North Oconee on Tuesday, East Jackson on Friday, and Elbert County on Saturday – the next few days should be an exciting time for Morgan County basketball.