By Nick Nunn staff writer
Last Saturday at the Macon Coliseum, the Morgan County High School (MCHS) Hoop Dogs proved to the entire state that they had what it takes to be the AAA state champions by beating the Buford Wolves 69-45 in the final game of the state playoffs.
The win places an enormous cherry on the top of the Dogs’ season record, which ended Saturday night at 28-5. Morgan County fans packed the Coliseum with red shirts, creating an overwhelming presence that the team was able to feed off during the game.
“The fans were very instrumental with all the red that was in the crowd,” said Morgan County Basketball Coach Charlemagne Gibbons.
“It showed the county was behind us. We rocked the gym with our fans.”
Morgan County senior CJ Turman secured the first possession at tip off, and, within the first minutes of the game, the Dogs took a lead over Buford that they would never relinquish.
A rebound dunk by Jailyn Ingram caused the Morgan County fan base to explode in their seats, creating a wave of momentum for the Dogs to ride on for an ever-expanding lead through the first quarter. Morgan County exhibited extreme control under pressure, forcing Buford to make mistakes and turn the ball over enough for them to fall behind 2-11 in the first four minutes of the game. Tookie Brown commanded the Dogs’ scoring in the first quarter – as he would all game – with 11 points, but it was a three-point shot by Devorious Brown just before the buzzer that bumped up Morgan County’s lead to 20-5 at the end of the first half. The Dogs didn’t give Buford a chance to make up any lost ground in the second half either, extending their lead to a full 19 points. By the time the boys headed to the locker room, Brown’s 24 points were more than Buford’s team had made as a whole. “For a lot of people, that was their first time seeing Tookie, and I thought he played his normally fantastic game,” said Coach Gibbons.
“The best thing about his performance was he had the best stage to show everyone he is the top guard in state and not just [with] scoring. He did it all.” Despite the sizeable lead at the half, Coach Gibbons was not prepared to rest easy. “As a coach you never get to the point that you think it is over until the final buzzer goes off,” stated Gibbons.
“The early start was great to get the fans going.” The pace of the game decreased in the second half, although Morgan County was still dominating the court. By the fourth quarter, Buford’s team was visibly slowed and arguably lethargic.
The Dogs began to bide its time early in the last quarter, and Coach Gibbons brought in the remaining seniors for the final minutes of the game. Morgan County’s bench held on through the final seconds before bursting into celebration on the sidelines.
“We have been preparing for that moment since we got beat last year in the playoff,” said Coach Gibbons about the championship win. “I felt coming into the game we were very well prepared for them.” “This title is huge for our program,” continued Gibbons. “We were able to bring back the tradition of basketball here that was started by previous coaches with Coach Ross and Coach Harris, who led the team to two state title games before.” “This championship was for every player and coach here before this team. We are all family!”