By Josh Briggs
For both the Alcovy boys and girls basketball programs, it's been an up and down season so far.
And on Tuesday it was no different. The boys defeated Salem in a sub-region matchup, 45-40, while the girls were blown out yet again, 74-31.
"This is the time of the year when you want to get guys ready for the playoffs," said Alcovy boys coach Eugene Brown. "Hopefully, we're peaking at the right time. I hope it's the time for us to peak."
The Tigers (7-12 overall, 2-5 Region 8-AAAA South) entered the game high off their big win over crosstown rival Newton last Saturday, looking to build off their recent success.
The game was competitive from the start.
Both teams came out with good energy, but it was Alcovy who made the first move. Ross Bagley had it going early, hitting a 3-pointer and scoring five quick points as the Tigers finished the first quarter on an 8-1 run, taking a 17-12 lead into the second period.
While the two teams were energized, effort alone couldn't put the ball in the basket during the second quarter. The scoring came to a grinding halt as neither team scored a field goal until well past the halfway mark of the quarter.
Alcovy only managed five points during the period to Salem's seven, and clung to a 22-19 lead at halftime.
But Cody Edwards provided the spark for the Tigers in the second half as he made two steals and had two big offensive rebounds early in the third to keep his team ahead.
Salem (7-12, 2-7) never let the game get out of reach; however, the Tigers led 32-31 heading into the fourth quarter, hoping to close the deal.
On a night when Salem's defense shut down Alcovy's leading scorer, Worrel Clahar, Edwards came up big, scoring five points over the final four minutes of the game.
Edwards hit two free throws to put Alcovy up 39-33 with less than two minutes to go. Salem answered right back, scoring back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to one with just over a minute remaining.
Four more Alcovy free throws put the Tigers up, 41-38, but Salem answered the next trip down the floor with a tip-in basket to get it back to a three-point game.
With five seconds left and a chance to tie, Salem turned the ball over off the inbound pass and Alcovy sank two more free throws to seal the victory.
"We're starting to find the combinations we can put out there on the floor and still be productive," said Brown. "Hopefully, we're getting our strength together at the right time, and we can get some momentum going down the stretch."
Edwards and Bagley each had 10 points to lead the Tigers, while Clahar added eight.
Earlier Tuesday, the Lady Tigers had no answer for a determined Salem squad, who just came off beating the No. 6 team in the state (Jones County).
Alcovy (1-18, 1-6) started the game by scoring the first bucket, but was unable to keep it going as the Lady Seminoles (15-6, 8-3) answered back with 24 straight points.
"We didn't play (Salem) like we did last time," said Alcovy girls coach Suzanne Smith. "We're struggling right now. I just told them they had to play through it. Keep playing your defense, play tough and don't get discouraged about it."
In all fairness, Salem entered the game as hot as any school in Class AAAA, having won eight out of its last nine games, and in a tight battle with Heritage for the top spot in the sub-region standings.
Alcovy got some offensive continuity going in the second quarter as Tiffany Moody scored seven straight points to give her team a much needed lift. But Salem still led 34-12 at the intermission.
The Lady Seminoles put the game away in the third by netting 27 points, and led 61-19 heading into the final frame.
But the Lady Tigers never quit, it's just that Salem was too tough to fold.
Despite the lopsided loss, Smith was quick to point out Alcovy's lone bright spot.
"Tiffany played well," acknowledged Smith. "Actually, her shots were off tonight. If she had made half the shots she put up, it would have been better. It wasn't her best game, but if it weren't for her, we wouldn't (have) been in the game."
Moody scored 18 to lead Alcovy, while her sister, Meagan, added five.
Courtney Hurt had another big night for the Lady Seminoles, scoring 31 points to lead all scorers.