After coming off a loss during their season opener, the Alcovy boys were hungry, eyeing the visiting Jackson County Panthers on Friday as if they were a line of red meat.
As a result, the Tigers (1-1 overall, 1-1 Region 8-AAAA, Sub-region B) satisfied their hunger by winning in convincing fashion, 62-35.
Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers (0-2, 0-2) were not as fortunate, falling 39-29 despite a strong effort.
"We definitely needed to get a win," acknowledged Alcovy boys head coach Eugene Brown. "Whether it was a statement game or not, we had to get a win because we let one get away at Clarke Central. We worked on our shots in practice, and not having any games between then and now probably benefited us more than playing right afterwards."
Whatever the case, this time around was a different story.
Jackson County (1-3, 0-1) never had a lead in the game. In fact, the Panthers didn't have the chance because after Jordan Butts opened by knocking down a trey, it was all downhill for the Tigers.
Alcovy senior point guard Worrel Clahar led the charge with 10 points in the first quarter alone. But Jackson County's Will Wolter kept it within striking distance, 19-9, after a smooth fade away buzzer-beater to end the period.
Still, the Tigers pulled ahead in the second, 31-12, after Kevin Boyle (four points, four rebounds) made the two-point deposit with two minutes and nine seconds until halftime.
Joseph Smith countered with a 3-pointer. Shortly thereafter Brown pulled his starters, opting to let his reserves get some playing time. Based on his decision, the bench played much of the second half.
"We're a lot deeper than we were last year," noted Brown, "and that's going to benefit us later on down the road."
Come halftime, the Tigers led 37-18 and showed no signs of fatigue, as they continued to pound the ball down the Panthers' throats to open the third quarter. After exchanging possessions and yet another 3-pointer by Butts, Alcovy increased its lead to 42-18 with 6:20 remaining until the fourth.
However, the run came at a cost for the Tigers. Senior forward Cody Edwards (eight points, five rebounds) was knocked out of the game at the 4:51 mark after a smooth layup and foul, landing on his wrist.
To their credit, the Panthers fought hard throughout the entire game, scoring their highest total in points (12) during the fourth quarter.
Overall, Alcovy shot 44 percent (22-of-50) from the field. The Tigers defined teamwork by distributing the ball effectively, as nine different players scored tallying a combined 15 assists.
Defensively, the Tigers were just as solid, forcing 22 turnovers while collecting 35 rebounds.
In comparison, the Panthers held their own by shooting 11-of-27 from the field (41 percent) and holding Alcovy to 5-of-17 from downtown.
Clahar, a senior point guard, had a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, despite limited play due to the significant lead. In fact, he didn't even attempt a shot during the fourth quarter. Clahar also led the Tigers in rebounds (six) and assists (four).
Butts (two assists, two steals) scored 12 points, all of which came from beyond the 3-point line (4-of-8). Isaiah Honeysucker and Brad Williams each added six points, while Keenan Black had four points and five boards.
Wolter led Jackson County with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Smith added 11, while Marquice Gillespie had six.
"This win was very important," said Brown. "Losing the first game just means you can't win them all, but we wanted to get out here, get a region win and get some confidence. We were really focused on trying to come out here and get a win."
For the girls, it was the turnovers (28) - particularly abuse of the traveling violation - that ultimately hurt the Lady Tigers.
"We played the whole game," said Alcovy head coach Suzanne Smith. "I was real pleased with how they didn't give up; they ran from start to finish. We still have to work on our offense; it's a great offense when its run, but it's not being run. It went better than it did last week (against Clarke Central), but it's still not going the way it's supposed to."
Despite the loss, Alcovy's Tiffany Moody scored a school-record and game-high 19 points. She also recorded her first double-double by grabbing 19 rebounds.
"Tiffany was outstanding," praised Smith. "She's only a junior, so we've got another year with her."
The Lady Panthers (4-1, 1-0) jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Smith called her first timeout, reminding her players they could hang with the more experienced group. Apparently, the pep talk paid off after Moody immediately scored. And after another layup by none other than Moody, the teams were deadlocked at 9 entering the second frame.
Alcovy buckled down on defense, limiting Jackson County to 3-of-16 shooting in the second. But it wasn't enough as the Lady Panthers led 20-15 entering halftime.
After the break, Jackson County's Breanna Drew nailed two consecutive baskets to increase the lead, 24-15, forcing Smith to burn a timeout to realign her troops.
Again, the Lady Tigers responded, as Nikki Moody and Tiffany Moody each hit back-to-back jumpers, cutting it to 24-19. But Alyssa Esco silenced the home crowd when she connected on a wide-open 3-pointer with three minutes and 54 seconds left in the period to further extend the lead.
"A lot of our players are real young and not quite sure where to go in those situations," said Smith regarding switching defenses from man to zone. "We've worked a lot with the post this week, (but) we're going to have to continue working the post."
Alcovy kept it close after Alex Tucker split the defense to find a cutting Tiffany Moody for the easy bucket. Following the inability of the Lady Tigers to find more open looks, Jackson County pulled ahead 33-23 entering the final quarter.
Eventually, the Lady Panthers would hold off by playing keep-away for most of the fourth to end the contest.
Drew led Jackson County with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Esco added 11 points, while Ashley Skelton had eight.
Four Lady Tigers registered two points apiece.
Alcovy will next visit Berkmar at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.