With a 19-point lead well into the fourth quarter Friday night, Rockdale sophomore Jalen Jordan let Bulldog fans know that he had arrived.
With Rockdale leading rival Alcovy 63-44, Jordan started a fast break that ended with the guard leaping over his competition and throwing down an emphatic dunk worthy of any basketball poster hanging on a wall.
Jordan finished with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, to help the Bulldogs to an 86-49 victory over the Tigers, improving their Region 2-AAAAAA mark to 2-3 overall. The win is the first for the Bulldogs in region play since defeating Druid Hills on Dec. 10, while the Tigers dropped their ninth consecutive game.
Alcovy was without head coach Jabari Levi, who has taken a personal leave of absence from the team. Levi’s presence might not have mattered in the end, as the Tigers surrendered 31 fourth-quarter points and fell behind by as many as 33 to their cross-county rivals.
“Truthfully, we looked like younger kids playing other younger kids tonight,” Rockdale coach Alen Williams said. “I could tell that Alcovy is a young team … we have a lot of talented players, they’re just young.”
Jordan was one of four Rockdale players to score in double figures in the win, as Darryl Tucker led the Bulldogs with 16 points for the second game in a row. Brian Jessie and James Walker finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Trailing 55-28 entering the fourth quarter, the Tigers and Bulldogs traded points early, as the Bulldogs kept their lead just under the 20-point mark. Jordan’s dunk started a 15-1 scoring run for Rockdale, fueled by a Jordan 3-pointer and a pair of putbacks from Jessie.
Brandon Freeman ended the Bulldogs’ scoring attack with a layup at the 2:45 mark, but Rockdale outscored the Tigers 8-4 over the final three minutes, going an almost-perfect 7-of-8 from the free-throw line during the fourth.
Williams said that with the Tigers still hanging around in the quarter, Jordan’s performance in the period gave the Bulldogs the energy they needed to finish off the road win.
“That’s his first dunk in an organized basketball game,” Williams said. “He’s a little excited.”
While the Bulldogs went 21-of-31 from the free-throw line for the game, they struggled from the charity stripe in the first quarter. The Bulldogs were 0-of-4 from the line in the opening period, but built up a 12-4 lead with baskets from Conner Ferrell, Jessie and Jelani Clarrington. Alcovy turned the ball over six times in the quarter, but battled back to trim the Bulldogs’ lead to 12-8 heading into the second quarter on a Freeman jumper with 30 seconds to go in the period.
Tucker found his groove in the second quarter, scoring eight points for the Bulldogs. Rockdale opened the quarter on a 7-2 scoring run, while Jessie added six points.
Rockdale grew its lead to 19-10 on a Ferrell jumper, but Alcovy battled back with a short 6-0 spurt on a jumper and a pair of free throws from Cameron Banks.
The Bulldogs held Alcovy to just six points over the final 4:48 of the half, closing the quarter on a 17-6 run, carrying a 36-22 lead into the break.
Rockdale outscored the Tigers 19-16 in the third period before its 31-point fourth quarter.
Alcovy interim coach Eric Hollier said the effort his team showed in their first game at home without their head coach was commendable.
“The effort was there,” Hollier said. “They played very hard. They played as a team. Everything was going
well until some fatigue set in late in the fourth quarter. I’m very proud of them.”
Freeman led the Tigers with 14 points, while Banks added 10.
Rockdale returns to action Saturday afternoon on the road at Heritage, while the Tigers host Westlake on Saturday at home.
“Tomorrow, I want to see effort and to continue to play as a team … and play good defense,” Hollier said. “(We have to play) good defense the full game.”
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.