Morgan Academy falls Thursday, victorious Friday

Published 7:00 am Sunday, January 8, 2023

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By Travis Gupton

The Selma Times-Journal

Morgan Academy split basketball games between Thursday and Friday.

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Monroe Academy girls 37, Morgan Academy 35

The Morgan Academy Lady Senators were a few inches away from tying the game in the final seconds of the game on Thursday night but ultimately fell to the Lady Vols of Monroe Academy 37-35.

Morgan Academy had the ball with three seconds left in the game down by two points. After a timeout, the ball went to the Lady Senators playmaker Bailey Brown who drove right to the basket and got a shot off that went halfway down and popped out to the disappointment of the Morgan Academy faithful.

“It went in and came out,” Morgan Academy head coach Lebo Jones said. “Just bad luck.”

The story of the game was the inability of the Lady Senators to get a rebound or any 50/50 ball from Monroe. That allowed the Lady Vols to get second-chance points often. In the first quarter, Monroe got a quick four points before Morgan Academy got on the board on a three-point shot from Brown.

Brown had seven points in the first quarter. Despite her offense, the Lady Vols held a 15-11 lead. Brown took over in the second quarter scoring all but two points in the quarter. When Morgan Academy made a run Monroe had an answer at every turn. The crowd had a hard time at times getting into the game. They would get loud but then Monroe would score a silencer. It was the tightest of leads for Monroe at the half leading by one at 23-22. Both teams played in a two-three zone throughout the game but Morgan Academy in the second half made a slight adjustment on the defensive side of the ball. “ We turned up the pressure a lot in the second half,” Jones said. “ We have struggled all year scoring. Our defense has been really good though.”  In the third quarter, Monroe played lights-out defense holding the Lady Senators to one field goal in the quarter. At the end of the third Morgan Academy trailed by five points, 30-25. The opportunity that Morgan Academy had with 3.0 seconds left came thanks to Monroe not being able to score free throws down the line. In the last two minutes of the game, the Lady Vols went 3 for 10 from the line. “What killed us in the girl’s game was they got a lot of offensive rebounds,” Jones said. “ They got a lot of loose balls and we missed 10 free throws. So if we fix that up we would have won the game.” 

Brown finished with 19 points.

Monroe 33, Morgan Academy 30

Monroe Academy got the best of the Senators on Thursday night in what was a low-scoring ugly game on both sides. Both squads got off to a decent start in the first quarter. Morgan Academy was led by five points by Allen Lightfoot. Those five points were half of the points Morgan Academy scored in the first frame and they led after one 10-6. There was no real offensive fluidity to either team. Both squads had a hard time running plays that were called and had to improvise on the fly. The second quarter was abysmal for Morgan Academy who only scored four points in the quarter. Despite the low scoring Morgan Academy still led 14-12. Coach Jones was not happy with his team after the first half. “ I think we were up 14 -12 at halftime,” Jones said. “I mean, that’s a football score. We couldn’t throw it into the ocean and I mean, neither could they. When you only give up 33 points in a game you should win every time.” The Vols found a little bit of offensive rhythm coming out of the half. Monroe outscored Morgan Academy 8-2. The only two points Morgan Academy had in the third quarter were two made free throws from Lightfoot. Going into the fourth Monroe had gained the lead by a score of 20-16. The Senators quickly made it a one-point game in the early moments of the fourth quarter with a long-range shot from Cole Wilson who had big shots in the game to keep the Senators in the lead or in the game. “ He did have good shots, thank goodness,” Jones said. “ He’s a guy who has been our top scorer all year. He only shot the ball three times tonight and made all three shots.” He had six points in the final quarter but it came down to the final 3.0 seconds again this time for the Senators. Monroe had missed a big free throw with 7.1 seconds left and out of a time-out by Morgan Academy the Senators trailed by 3 at 33-30. The final play according to Jones was supposed to be a three-point attempt to tie the game but the ball was passed into the middle and deflected by Monroe to give them the win. As the teams walked out coach Jones could be heard saying “ I don’t know what just happened” “The play was designed to shoot a three,” Jones said. “But we just had a mental lapse. Maybe we thought we had more time than we did or you get it in and kick it out but we didn’t have enough time to do that so that’s what happened.”

Lady Senators 41, Lady Cougars 38: The Morgan Academy Lady Senators found themselves in another game that came to the last play for the second night in a row, this time on the winning end.

The first half was a tightly fought battle between two equal teams. Southern went on a run that would be responded by the Lady Senators throughout the entire half on Friday.

Morgan Academy was led in the first half by Kennan Lee McIntosh and Bailey Brown on both sides of the ball. McIntosh had six points in the first half while Brown added eight.

Southern in the first half moved the ball really well and was able to get around the 2-3 zone of Morgan. At the break Morgan led 22-21.

“It was very simple,” Morgan Head Coach Lebo Jones said.

“I told them it’s going to come down to the wire, we know that. The last time we played them this year they beat us by one or two… I told them, I said it’s going to come down to who wants it more and if ya’ll want it more than they do I think we will win the game. I think we wanted it a little more than they did and we executed a little bit more than they did in the second half and like I said our defense in the second half was key for the victory.”

In the second half, Morgan Academy tightened up on defense contesting every shot Southern put up. Southern had an opportunity to tie with 5 seconds left in the game, but Brown stuffed a pass at midcourt to secure the win for the Lady Senators.

“Well, I didn’t want them to score,” Brown said. “I did not want to relive the night before missing that last shot so that last block paid off it was good.”

Senators 61, Cougars 39: Milton Hand had the “hot hand” against Southern Academy scoring 19 points in three quarters in route to a rout of the Cougars.

“It was all the team coming together finally after last night’s tough loss,” Hand said. “We just put it all together as a family and made something happen.”

From the opening tip, Morgan dominated both sides of the ball. Southern was only able to put 19 points  in the first half,

thanks to the active hands and pressure the Senators put on the ball. 

In the first half, Hand had 11 points all of those coming in the first quarter. Southern stayed in the game for a little while in the first half thanks to nine big points by Gabe Haney, who had a big first-half shooting from beyond the arc.

“He played really well,” Southern Academy Head Coach Mike Allen said. “Gabe is a really good shooter.”

Morgan Academy sat comfortably at the half with a 34-19 lead. Coach Jones, at the half, wanted to make sure that his team did not let their foot off the gas in the second half.

“I told them just stay the course,” Jones said. “I told them I would let the starters play a majority of the third quarter and let them get some work in. We weren’t going to press anymore. We were going to be in our 2-3 defense and then get ahead and stay ahead then let the younger guys get in in the fourth quarter and it all worked out.”

Southern made a small run to start the second half but the Morgan Academy defense quickly shut down the run. Hand scored eight more points in the third quarter before Coach Jones put in his subs in the fourth. Allen Lightfoot scored 12