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Alcovy Tigers basketball sees progression in 2023-24
Alcovy Basketball 2024
Andre Jernigan (left) and Janae Hutcherson (right) were two breakout players in 2023-24 that will return next season. - photo by Garrett Pitts

Both Alcovy Tigers basketball teams saw progression in 2024.

With the girls team having its second straight winning season along with the boys team capturing its first winning season since 2011-2012, both coaches entered the offseason with optimism.

Lady Tigers take another step forward 

After going 13-12 in 2023 with a senior-heavy roster, the Lady Tigers improved to 14-10 in 2024.

Alcovy’s region performance is where the LAdy Tigers made an even bigger leap.

The Lady Tigers went 5-10 in Region 3-AAAAAA a year ago. This year, they finished with an 8-6 record.

The improvements came despite losing their highest-production player from a year ago and the lone senior, Luv Llewellyn.

Llewellyn suffered an injury prior to the season that sidelined her for the entirety of the Lady Tigers 2024 campaign.

Making up for the lost production was a topic that Lady Tigers’ head coach Justin Hunter harped on following the year.

“It ended up being another winning season for our program, being the second winning season in a row,” Hunter said. “We did improve on our performance from a year before despite losing a lot of our production from last year, which was our senior Luv Llewllyn. We were able to still be effective as a team, missing arguably our biggest player from last year.”

The loss of Llewellyn opened the door for a junior takeover.

Juniors Janae Hutcherson, Kendall Banks and Shamariah Gibbs filled the void and then some in 2024.

“Having them step up in that role [was big]. Janae stepped up in multiple facets for us. Not only in offensive production, but steals on the other side. Kendall Banks saw a huge improvement in her offensive production, as well as some growth in the defensive area in the category of blocks,” Hunter said. “Last but not least to mention is Shamariah Gibbs. She had a huge impact, filling in the five spot that Luv had filled for the last three years. She did everything with the inclusion of being the leading rebounder in the region by a wide margin.”

In the stat sheet, Hutcherson led the team with 13.2 points per game as well as a 42 percent field-goal percentage and 4.5 assists per game.

Banks’ perimeter shooting led the way with a 31 percent three-point percentage. Banks ended the season ranked No. 15 in the state with 63 three pointers made.

Gibbs’ 11 rebounds per game led Region 3-AAAAAA.

Along with the junior was a slew of underclassmen that Hunter said made a significant impact on Alcovy’s season.

“It is very promising. This year we literally had five freshmen that were taking part in getting varsity reps this year. Two out of the five were major contributors this year,” Hunter said. “At the guard spot, Addison Way and Minah Little. We had a sophomore getting minutes here and there with Alyric Buckmon. Most of our veteran players were all juniors. All of these people we look at are coming back next year. We are only losing Luv, who we lost symbolically and physically this year due to injury.”

Tigers claim first winning season in over a decade

In the offseason that followed the 2023 season, Alcovy hired Taylor Jackson to be the team’s new head coach.

Months later, the Tigers produced their first finish above .500 since the 2011-12 season with a 14-13 record while finishing 3-11 in Region 3-AAAAAA play.

Alcovy started off the season on a hot streak, winning 11 of its first 14 games.

However, the season became a tale of two halves. In the games following the 11-3 start, the Tigers went 3-10. 

Looking back on the year, Jackson was happy with the team’s efforts, despite not finishing as well as they started.

“Overall, I was pleased and proud of our accomplishments this year. Simultaneously, I feel like [there were] some of our goals that we did not hit,” Jackson said. “But in general, I feel it was a great year. I thought we grew, we worked really hard.”

Though the two sides of the season showed different results, there was one ongoing theme for Alcovy in 2024 — close games.

Out of the Tigers’ 27 games, 16 of them were decided by 10 points or less.

Alcovy’s 2024 roster featured four seniors, including Tim Walls, Robert Miller IV, Keyrone Hendrix and David Garber.

Jackson only spent one season with this senior group, but he is forever grateful for what they did for the program.

“I can’t say enough about their character and the kind of men they are. They are definitely the kind of young men that, when you think of Alcovy basketball, that’s the kind of young men [they are],” Jackson said. “They are four excellent human beings, I was super honored to coach them for a short time. I told them after the game Saturday, they have truly laid a foundation of something that I think will be incredible. I truly believe we are on the edge of achieving great things with Alcovy basketball. They were a key part of it.”

Outside of the seniors, the Tigers will be returning many of their top contributors in 2024.

All-Region selection Nick Durham will return along with breakout sophomore Andre Jernigan and junior Jaqari Smith.

“We are super excited for what is returning. Especially because we weren’t able to get that many wins, but the way we battled down the stretch. We played Woodward in their two closet region games, outside of Jonesboro,” Jackson said. “To have those guys back, who will be hungrier and now that they see what it takes to achieve a high level of success. They are going to be more mature physically, mentally. We are going to have some lofty expectations next year.”

After delivering the Tigers’ best season in over a decade, Jackson wants this season to serve as the floor for the Alcovy basketball going forward.

“Quite frankly, I hope [this season] is the bare minimum. I hope that moving forward, we become a program that expects to have winning seasons. We want to expect 15 or 20 wins to be the norm. It's the first winning season since 2011-2012. It is tough to be that first group that says, ‘We are going to find ways to win games.’ It is the launching pad for the teams to come.”