By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

The Morgan County High School (MCHS) varsity basketball teams began their holiday tournament schedule on the road last weekend, with the girls traveling to Atlanta for the Woodward Academy Classic, and the boys riding all the way out to Columbia, SC, for the Chick-Fil-A Classic.

Before the holiday break, however, Morgan County took on region opponent North Oconee High School on Tuesday, Dec. 17. The Morgan County girls were facing tough competition with the North Oconee Lady Titans, who were the Region Champs during the last season.

The Dogs managed to control the Titans’ game during the first half, during which Morgan County built a slim 12-11 lead. Unfortunately, the Titans began to inch away from Morgan County in the third quarter. By the beginning of the fourth, North Oconee had built a 25-19 lead, and the Titans managed to stay ahead for the rest of the game for a 37-30 win.

The loss marked the first region defeat of the season so far, putting the girls at 3-1 in the region. Coming off the tough loss to the Titans, the Dogs rallied at the Woodward Academy Classic to beat both of their opponents, the North Clayton Eagles and the Woodward Academy War Eagles.

The Lady Dogs came out strong Friday night with a 58-29 win over North Clayton before moving on to the host team, Woodward Academy, on Saturday.

Woodward Academy managed to hold Morgan County close through the game, but the Dogs came out on top 41-35 to come out of the Classic unscathed. “We were missing a couple of key pieces and these girls stepped up and helped us pull out the win,” said MCHS Head Girls Basketball Coach Joshua Reeves. “We definitely got better as a team, which is the goal during the Christmas break.”

The Morgan County boys have been just as active as the Lady Dogs since last Tuesday, when they beat the North Oconee Titans 77-36.

The Dogs started off against strong against the Titans, holding them to eight points in the first quarter while scoring 19. Morgan County never looked back and sailed to an easy win over North Oconee.

By Friday, the varsity Hoop Dogs were already in South Carolina and getting ready for their first game of the Chick-Fil-A Classic. Blanche Ely, from Pompano Beach, Fla., was the first opponent scheduled for the Dogs in the Classic.

The Blanche Ely Tigers were a good match for Morgan County, and, despite competition, the Dogs were able to build a narrow 27-23 lead through the first half of the game. However, the Tigers got a second wind in the second half of the game and began to move ahead of the Dogs.

Late in the second half, Blanche Ely built up just enough of a lead to stay ahead of Morgan County for a final 59-50 win. The Dogs’ next game was then scheduled for Saturday afternoon against the Richland Northeast Cavaliers, from Columbia, SC.

Coming off the loss to Blanche Ely, the Dogs fought hard against Richland Northeast to hold them in check. After the first quarter, the Dogs only led by a single point, 23-22, but were able to hold on to the lead for the remainder of the game, winning 53-48 against the Cavaliers.

Morgan County played its final game of the Classic against Luella High School on Monday at 2:15 p.m. Leaving only a single day to be home for Christmas, both the boys’ and girls’ teams will be at their next tournaments on Dec. 26.

The Lady Dogs will be in Montgomery, Ala., for the Dwight Madison Christmas Tournament, while the boys will be in Atlanta for the Nike Explosion Showcase. Following these tournaments, both teams will again come together to compete on Jan. 4 at Carver High School in Montgomery, Ala., before returning to face Jackson County at home on Jan. 7.