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Hoops: Eastside at Alcovy
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COVINGTON - For Eugene Brown, there is no gray area as to what wins championships: It's defense.

And that's exactly what his Tigers proved Friday night, forcing 28 turnovers by putting the defensive clamps on crosstown rival Eastside at the Jungle, 49-39.

"Our defense is our staple," said Brown, "so we've been trying to tighten that up. We went back to the basics with straight fundamental work because we know that's going to carry us if we get a chance to do anything this year. We've been focusing on that, and the guys believe in what we're doing."

Earlier Friday, the tables were turned, as the Lady Eagles also forced 28 turnovers en route to a 48-41 win against the Lady Tigers.

In the boys game, Alcovy (8-12 overall, 5-6 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B) used a constant barrage of pressure, limiting the Eagles to 35 percent from the field (12-of-34).

In addition, Eastside (7-11, 2-7) shot just 14 percent from 3-point range (2-of-14).

"We didn't score the ball with as much consistency as I would have liked to have seen us do," said Eastside coach Michael Gerald, "and that's kind of been our dilemma lately."

Yet the first quarter gave no such indication, as each team scored eight points apiece.

The second period was an entirely different story, as Alcovy scored 20 points compared to six. Julian Butts opened the quarter with a deep 3-pointer, putting the Tigers ahead for good, 11-8.

"You have to be able to execute during the game," said Gerald, "and (Alcovy) was able to execute with more regularity than us. We've just got to find a way to execute offensively."

The Tigers went on an 8-0 run to end the first half, leading 28-14 entering halftime.

"We came out and played well," said Worrel Clahar, who paced Alcovy with a game-high 15 points and four assists. "It was big that we executed and did what we do in practice (to) come out with the victory."

The Tigers enjoyed the defensive stop in the second quarter so much that they did it again in the third, holding Eastside to another six points, all coming from Artis Clanton.

Jordan Butts opened the second half with a deep trey, followed by back-to-back baskets by Clanton. But Alcovy led 37-20 entering the final quarter.

"We know we can score," said Butts, who finished with six points, along with his brother, Julian. "If we spread the ball around like we did tonight, everybody on our team can score."

To their credit, the Eagles did not back down, scoring 19 points - one more than they had netted after three quarters of action - in the fourth frame.

Clanton had a team-high 13 points. Cameron Robinson added eight, while Andrico Bailey followed with six points.

"The rest of the season depends on whether these guys feel like they (have) something worth fighting for," said Gerald. "It's my job to continue to work them hard, and to work on those things they're deficient in."

Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles (9-15, 2-8) took advantage of a 10-2 run in the first quarter, powered by fast breaks which led to transition baskets.

"It was a good win and we needed it," said Eastside coach Jason Grooms. "Anytime you come on the road and win is good. I'm proud of them for keeping their composure there in the end. They made enough plays to get it done."

Eastside forced Alcovy (1-16, 1-9) to put up enough bricks to build a house in the first half, shooting 24 percent (6-of-25) from the field.

"I really think if we would have played the first quarter it would have been closer and we would've won," said Alcovy coach Suzanne Smith.

Leading 24-16 entering halftime, the Lady Eagles were still able to hold on for the win despite shooting 26 percent overall from the free-throw line (6-of-23).

"When you miss that many free throws you can kind of get a glimpse of how good we could be," said Grooms.

Trailing 37-26 after three quarters, Alcovy managed to cut the deficit to four in the fourth by going on a late 17-4 run. However, the comeback was negated, as Eastside held on for the win, its first against the Lady Tigers this season.

"It's one of the first close games we've pulled off," noted Grooms. "We've lost (several) games by about five points or less, and that shows signs of a young team not able to make enough plays at the end. But tonight I thought we did."

Ashley Burtts led Eastside with 13 points. Raven Williams added 11, while Ashley Crew and Antonia Mullins had six poins apiece.

Alcovy's Tiffany Moody scored a game-high 17 points. Lisa Kossally added 10, while Alex Tucker had eight points.