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Posted: June 21, 2017 1:06 p.m.

PREP BASKETBALL: Alcovy boys coach Mack Hardwick looking forward to senior-laden team next season

Gabriel Stovall | The Covington News/

Alcovy's A.J. Paschal will be the leading returning scorer for the Tigers come next season.

MORROW, Ga. — As far as summer basketball camps and leagues go, there are typically two types of high school coaches. 

One type counts the wins and losses, almost as intricately as if it were regular season play. That’s not to say that such coaches place the same emphasis on summer games as the ones played in the fall and winter.

But then there’s the second type that’s like Alcovy head boys basketball coach Mack Hardwick who measures summer success outside of wins and losses. 

Such was the case as Hardwick’s Tigers — fresh off a state title appearance despite a 6-22 2016-17 campaign — began their summer workout regimen in earnest at the Clayton State summer camp last week. In it, Hardwick said he was taking careful notes of everything his Tigers were doing, except wins and losses. 

“I haven’t been keeping track of that at all, actually,” Hardwick said. “I’ve just been trying to see if our defensive schemes are working. I’m trying to see if our guys are running our offense correctly or if they’re executing our plays. We’d been here four five days, and we have won a lot of games here, I’ll say that much.” 

One game Alcovy didn’t win was its matchup against Newton. The Tigers actually spotted Newton a 17-0 lead before scoring. But once it got on the scoreboard, you could tell that the Tigers began to settle in and play better basketball. 

Perhaps some of whatever Hardwick calls summer success can be attributed to the fact that he finally has a more seasoned ball club returning for a new year. Only three seniors who truly contributed for Alcovy last season depart. They are Carnacion Cosby, who was the team’s leading scorer, Koby Perry whom Hardwick often referred to as an impactful leader, particularly early last season and Terrance Gross who Hardwick said was an “x-factor” for last year’s squad. 

Beyond those guys, however, most everyone is expected to return, hopefully with some senior swagger and a chip on their shoulders to get back to the state tournament, and beyond. 

“Absolutely. That’s one of our main goals,” Hardwick said. “To go deeper in state this year will be really big for our boys. We’ve always been a young team, to be honest. And now many of these boys I’ve had for four years now.” 

Among them will be leading returning scorer AJ Paschal who averaged 12 points per contest last year. Paschal truly came on strong toward the end of the season, scoring 19, 21 and 22 points in the final three games. 

He’ll be accompanied in the backcourt by Shaquille Brown, who put up 10 points per game last year. Another rising senior in Jordan Hill should see an increase in minutes, as will rising junior Jaylin Williams. 

During Clayton State games — particularly against Newton — 6-foot-6 senior Warren Wilson had some big moments defensively while patrolling the low post. 

It’s the senior-laden leadership Hardwick is counting on, not just for maturity, but also for balanced scoring. 

“That’s the good thing about this group,” Hardwick said. “We’re going to be a senior squad that, really all of them on any given night can end up having a good night for us, as far as leading us and scoring. We’re senior heavy, but we’re also going to be depending on some really talented juniors to help us along as well.” 

The Tigers haven’t had a winning season since the 27-4 mark it left in the 2011-12 campaign when Eugene Brown was coach and Duke graduate Devon Edwards was leading the team in scoring. That squad made an Elite Eight appearance in the Class AAAA playoffs. 

Hardwick says, though, that having a strong finish to a so-far-so-good summer will be key in helping get Alcovy back to that standard. 

“It’s going to be us training,” he said. “Weight training, personal training. Lifting to get bigger and more explosive. Learning our offensive and defensive schemes. That’s gonna wrap up what we think will be a productive summer for us.” 

 

 

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