Newton County's basketball teams had a successful Tuesday as four out of six teams earned victories, including the Alcovy boys, who won their first game of the young season, while the Eastside boys remained undefeated.
The Tigers once again led in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game against Druid Hills, but for the first time this season the team managed to avoid its usual self-inflicted mistakes, hold on for a 69-63 win and showed the kind of growth needed to turn a season around.
"In the other two games (against Newton and Morgan County), guys were trying to win games by themselves. Every time they'd catch the ball, somebody was trying to do something by themselves, make some type of spectacular pass, instead of running the system and trying to execute down the stretch," said head coach Eugene Brown.
Even in Tuesday's game, Alcovy (1-3, 1-1) still let Druid Hills back into the game in the fourth quarter, but the team buckled down and pulled out a close six-point victory, buoyed by strong performances by seniors Justin Wallace, who had 15 points and seven assists, and Marcus Beasley, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"We allowed them to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but instead of what had happened in past games - our lack of execution in the fourth quarter - we did some things the way we needed to get them done to finish the game," Brown said. "That was the difference; we made changes in our roster to get guys to understand it's not all about an individual performance and that it's not going to work unless it's a team effort."
Not only did the starting lineup change, but a couple of players were asked to leave the team because of attitude problems.
Brown particularly noted the efforts of Shane Lawrence, who played his sophomore year but sat out last year, and Rico Herring, two new varsity players who provided a spark.
"It was a relief for the guys (to get the win). They set some really high goals and got some pretty big aspirations coming off last year's tremendous success. They were a little unsure of themselves, and they needed that win to get that confidence back and realize that they could finish ball games," Brown said. "We were ahead in the fourth quarter in three of the four games. We never stopped working hard in practice, and trying to find the right combination of guys with the right attitudes.
"We started off like this year years ago, when we were 0-3, and then ended up 20-8."
The Tigers will head to Morrow today for another region game.
On Saturday, the team is having a fund raiser for the team. New mattresses and bedding will be sold this weekend at prices around 60 percent off from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Alcovy High School.
The Eagles meanwhile continued their unbeaten season, downing Henry County (1-1) 78-73 for Eastside's (4-0) fourth straight win.
Henry County jumped out to a 21-12 lead in the first quarter, due in part to a cold shooting start by the Eagles, who missed several shots in the paint.
However, the Eagles came back strong with a 17-12 second quarter and continued to turn up the tempo, scoring 25 in the third quarter and holding off a late Henry County run for the win.
Senior guard Quindarrius Russell led all scorers with 32 points, while junior guard Treyvon Francis notched a career high 16 assists, along with 13 points. Junior guard Anthony Henderson added 19 points in the big scoring night.
"I really thought the insertion of junior Jamal Hardge into the starting lineup was important for this game due to the physical nature of Henry County's team. Jamal helped to stabilize the glass and also played terrific defense on both the perimeter and the bloc," said coach Greg Freeman.
The Eagles will look to defend their record today when they travel to struggling Monroe Area (1-4) for an 8:30 p.m. game.
On the other side, the Newton Rams dropped their first game in a hard fought 43-38 loss to region foe Lovejoy.
The game started off poorly for the Rams, who fell behind 14-2 in the first quarter, before going on an 8-0 run. They managed to tie the game in the fourth, but eventually fell back behind by three points after a Lovejoy basket.
Newton's Rodarius Mitchell lofted a three pointer with 6 seconds left, but the shot was off the mark and Newton was forced to foul. Lovejoy would hit its two free throws and walk away with the win.
Rashad Cabane led the team with 10 points and seven rebounds in the losing effort.
Newton will look to get back on track Friday when it travels to the Jackson, Altanta Jaguars today for a 7:30 p.m. game.
The talented Tigers continued their strong play with a 56-23 win against Druid Hills to improve to (4-2, 2-2). The team will take on Morrow today at 7 p.m.
The Rams won in similarly impressive fashion, taking down Lovejoy by a score of 58-24, getting back on track after a tough loss to Alcovy last week.
The Rams will head to Jackson, Atlanta today at 6 p.m.
The Eagles were the only team that couldn't pull out the victory, losing by one point to Henry County 66-67. Eastside fell to 2-3 on the season and is off next week, before traveling to Newton Dec. 15 for a 2:30 p.m. game.