It’s been a great year for basketball so far this year in Newton County. All six high school teams are in prime positions to make runs at a region championship and make the state playoffs. If it happens, it’ll be the first time the three schools sent both boys’ and girls’ teams to their respective state tournaments.
No school has had it better than Alcovy though. While Newton’s girls are much-improved and the Rams are playing as well as any team in Region 2-AAAAA and Eastside’s teams are solidly placed in the top of their regions, Alcovy’s squads are on the cusp of making history. They both have identical overall and region records and with wins against Union Grove (both teams played last Saturday), Alcovy will finish with two subregion champions with perfect leagues records for the first time in school history.
Alcovy girls (21-3, 11-0 Region 3A-AAAA)
The Lady Tigers really haven’t surprised many with their play. They’ve cruised through region play with little resistance while winning big games against Statesboro and Holy Innocents.
Alcovy’s strength has been the play of point guard Megan Tucker and forward Ashley Williams. Tucker, who moved over from shooting guard this year, and Williams are the premiere inside-outside tandem in the region. Tucker has rebounded from a bit of a disappointing sophomore season and has upped her scoring but more importantly, has improved her defense on the perimeter. Lisa Kossally, last year’s defensive stopper at the guard position, graduated, leaving a void in that area. Tucker has filled it nicely while improving her scoring and facilitating.
Alcovy’s most improved player is Williams though. The 6-foot junior may be as athletic as any player in the state. She scores at will inside and is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. For Williams, it has been a case of more playing time. While still raw, she has improved mostly because she she’s still a relative newcomer to the game. As it is, she’s the region’s most dominating inside player while also being the league’s best rebounder.
The Lady Tigers have earned a first-round bye in the region tournament and will be looking to avenge losses in last year’s tournament and state playoffs. Alcovy’s girls did win the school’s first state playoff game last year but they were knocked out in the second round by Statesboro. The Lady Tigers can do a lot to bolster their hopes of a state title run with a region championship and home playoff games in the first and second rounds.
Alcovy boys (21-3, 11-0 Region 3A-AAAA)
While Alcovy’s girls were expected to be in the position they are, the boys have surprised some with their play. While they posted a 12-3 region record and won 20 games a year ago, they lost in the semifinals of the region tournament and were bounced by Thomas County Central in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs. This year, the Tigers are perfect in region play so far and winners of 12 straight. They’ll be looking to secure a home game and more when they enter the Region 3-AAAA tournament later this month.
So far, they’re in great position to make a title run. By virtue of their perfect subregion record, the Tigers have already earned a first-round bye in the tournament much like they did a year ago. The key will be staying hot and getting that first win to secure a state-playoff berth.
To do that the Tigers will simply need to keep doing what they’ve done over the second half of the season. Devon Edwards has been steady at point guard but the difference has been the emergence of Michael Tucker, Deandre Butler and more recently, Darius Mathis. Tucker is a tough player to guard and is active on the offensive glass. He gives the Tigers a multi-skilled wingman that can score from outside and take the ball to the rim. Butler is also an athletic player who gets inside and can finish. Mathis has emerged as Alcovy’s best outside threat and gives the Tigers the ability to spread the floor. Perhaps the biggest key has been the play of Justin Wallace.
Wallace along with Tucker gives Alcovy two players with height that can score in a multitude of ways. Both can play several positions on the floor and with Edwards playmaking ability, the Tigers can hurt teams from all over the floor.
Alcovy kicks off its region tournament Feb. 9 at Whitewater.