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December 27, 2016 9:00 a.m.

BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Alcovy hoops teams learning lessons in holiday tourneys

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First year Alcovy girls' basketball coach Justin Hunter is using the holiday tournament season to teach fundamentals and execution as building blocks for his program.

Covnews

The coaches for both Alcovy basketball programs have engaged in a different way of seeing progress.

It’s not about wins and losses, but it’s about the learning experiences. Which is why both coaches, Mack Hardwick for the boys and Justin Hunter for the girls, are grateful for holiday tournaments.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get better in all facets of the game,” Hardwick said. “Especially with us being somewhat short-handed as a team, it gives others an opportunity to step up.”

Last week, the Alcovy boys (5-6) sandwiched a 72-59 win against Strong Rock Christian with hard fought lossess in the Hampton Holiday Hoops tournament – a 74-65 overtime setback to tourney host Hampton and a 57-55 loss to Northgate. 

Some of those stepping up include players like Shaquille Brown, a 6-foot-2 junior guard who had 10 points in the loss to Northgate. Also, AJ Paschal, who knocked down several big three-pointers to keep Alcovy in the game throughout.

It’s been a pleasant thing to behold for Hardwick, who is playing right now without two of his best players in senior Koby Bryant and Carnacion Cosby. Both players, according to Hardwick, are out for what he called “extenuating circumstances.” He expects them to return, but until then, he’s glad to see how his other guys are stepping up.

“These guys who are getting in now are guys who have typically been on the bench,” Hardwick said. “But tournaments like these give them a chance to get in some valuable game experience against opponents we probably won’t typically see.”

So that’s why Hardwick says the losses in such games are kind of secondary. So says Hunter regarding his girls’ squad.

Hunter, in his first year coaching the Alcovy Lady Tigers, has been looking for the kind of production from his team that can’t always be easily measured through the wins and losses column.

“Our best game was actually a loss,” Hunter said. “It was against a very athletic Creekside team, and we lost that one, but I love the way we played. I love the things we showed in that game.”

The Lady Tigers took part in the Woodland High School Christmas tournament last week and lost 77-20 against a highly regarded Cross Keys team, and then dropped a thriller 54-51 double overtime matchup against Riverdale. Then later lost 60-34 to South Atlanta.

In those games it was players such as Tamia Brown, who had 17 points in the South Atlanta loss, and freshmen Serai Johnson who Hunter said have been coming up big.

“For anyone who saw Tamia play last year, you can see her development over the last season,” Hunter said. “And for someone like Serai to come and make that bucket for us to go into the first overtime game against Riverdale, that’s something huge.”

For Hunter, it comes down to a simple formula he’s been preaching all season.

“Like I’ve said before, it’s my two “Es.”  Effort and execution,” he said. “For us, the  effort is always there. But we’re working on being more consistent with execution. That’s why games like these and tournaments such as these help us. We use these to really work the fundamentals. That’s what you have to do when rebuilding a program.”

Hunter’s squad will be back in action on Monday December 26-28 at the Copeland Christmas Classic. Meanwhile, Hardwick  and his boys will have some time for reprieve before getting back onto the court to region foe Heritage on January 3.

 

Eastside has strong showing at Jones County tourney

The No. 10 Eastside Eagles boys upped their record to 9-2 after going 2-1 in the State Bank and Trust Company Holiday Classic hosted by Jones County High School. After losing its first game there in an 88-85 overtime nailbiter to Central Macon, the Eagles rebounded with 68-48 and 77-72 wins against West Laurens and Columbia respectively.

Keiodre Perry averaged 17.6 points per game, with a 24-point performance against Central-Macon. Meanwhile, Dez Dyer has continued his solid play, scoring 20 in the West Laurens victory, and tallying a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds against Columbia.

Eastside will Stephenson Wednesday in the Sweet South Classic at Morgan County

Lady Eagles show Christmas spirit

After a fairly topsy-turvy start to the season, Eastside Lady Eagles hoops coach Gladys King decided to give her girls a holiday reprieve, while extending their impact beyond the basketball court.

Last week, King and her girls took time to pass out gifts, blankets and smiles to seniors at Covington nursing homes. The Lady Eagles will play against Morgan County Wednesday in the Sweet South Classic, but before that, King said she wanted to give her girls a reminder that being an athlete in the community was about a lot more than stats, wins and losses.

“We want to promote the positive,” she said. “It’s not always about the wins and losses. It’s about showing everyone love.” 

The Lady Eagles get back on the court Wednesday at Morgan County in the girls' side of the Sweet South Classic. 

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