On Friday night, the Alcovy Tigers basketball team welcomed South Gwinnett to town. Going into the game, Alcovy was looking to get its first win of the season. Despite Alcovy playing with outstanding effort, once against they came up short, losing 64-54.
Even in a losing effort, Darnell Jefferies finished the game with 25 points for Alcovy. The game started off slow for Alcovy. They were getting out in fast-breaks, but they missed too many shots at the rim. Defensively, the Tigers were giving up alley-oops and fast-break dunks.
At one point in the third quarter it seemed the game was over, with Alcovy was trailing by 20 points. Going into the fourth quarter, the Tigers were down by 19 points. But that pride Alcovy has shown at times this season was on display in the fourth quarter.
Alcovy did everything they could to get back in the game. As the Tigers clawed back into the game, you could see the potential they have if they could put it together for a complete game. The lead was cut to only eight points with less than three minutes left in the game, but South Gwinnett sealed the game at the free-throw line.
With that loss, Alcovy is 0-10 on the season matching the record of the football team this season. This hasn’t been the best year in sports for Alcovy, but Alcovy Head Coach Duane Kelley is up for the challenge of changing the culture at Alcovy.
This is Kelley’s first year coaching at Alcovy. He has an assertive personality, and is not scared to say what he means. That’s exactly what Alcovy needs. Kelley is very vocal during games, and constantly on his players about doing the right things on the court. His yelling and physical motions are not intended to degrade his team, but rather to show his players how invested he is with them, and how much he wants them to give their all when they step on the court.
“There’s a way to prepare to win and there is a way to prepare to lose,” Kelley said. “We have to change our mindset by busting our butt every day in practice and making a commitment to the program.”
Although the team is struggling, Alcovy does have some bright spots on their team. Darnell Jefferies is a solid big-man for the Tigers. He can get the ball on the block and post up, run the pick & roll, hit the mid-range jump shot and runs the floor well for a big man. He can work on boxing-out a little more and rebounding, but he’s only a freshman.
Changing the culture at Alcovy can’t just be left up to the coaches and players. The parents, students and community must get involved in helping Alcovy progress in the right direction. Students have to start showing up at games and giving the players some energy on the court. Parents and people in the community need to support the team in any way they can.
“The biggest thing on changing the mindset is changing the work ethic,” Kelley explained. “Right now, we are getting there but we have to make a commitment to the off-season and the weight room.”
Though Alcovy’s record doesn’t show it, they are getting better, and transforming into the team they need to be to compete against Eastside and Newton.
They have an outstanding coach who is completely invested in doing whatever he can to get the best out of his players. Alcovy has a chance to get its first win of the season during an upcoming Christmas tournament.