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PREP BASKETBALL: Alcovy girls desire stronger finish to this hoops season than last year
Alcovy sophomore Serai Johnson is one of a number of sophomore top performers for the Lady Tigers. - photo by Tom White

COVINGTON, Ga. -- In his second year as head coach, Justin Hunter has the Alcovy girls’ basketball team off to a similar start as last year when they got off to a 5-6 pre-winter break start. But he looks to finish the season much stronger than last year. 

After opening up the 2016-17 campaign just under .500, last years squad sputtered to the finish line ending the year with a 6-22 record, only notching one win in the final 17 games.  

As of this past Thursday, the Tigers have a 3-4 record with a chance to either get to or above the .500 mark at the Rockdale pre-Christmas tournament. Hunter’s squad split its first two games of the tournament with a three-point loss to Class AAAAA Clarke Central, and a three-point win over Class AAAAAAA Lakeside. Both of these close finishes show the Tigers’ ability to compete, if not finish games against decent opponents. 

Against Clarke Central, the girls just couldn’t close the deal, falling 52-49. Sophomores Anyalia Lundy’s 14 points and Dalehia Bolden’s 12 points lead the scoring effort for the Tigers, but according to Hunter, the team “ultimately did not play with the intensity/effort” it displayed in the Lakeside contest. 

In its win over Lakeside, Alcovy was once again led by two sophomores, Ariyan Franklin and Serai Johnson, who posted 18 and 15 points respectively. Coach Hunter credited his team’s intensity after the game.

 “(Our) effort was intense the entire game, and [we] executed plays and strategies well enough to secure a victor,” Hunter said.  

The two games are stunningly parallel, though opposite: a three-point loss due to the team’s lack of effort and intensity, then a three-point win thanks to the team’s effort and intensity. 

In both games, the Tigers played to the opponent’s level, which against Clarke County, made them play down a level, as Clarke is a classification lower than Class AAAAAA Alcovy. But against Lakeside, a class above Alcovy, the Tigers performed much better.

The characteristic of playing to your opponent’s level is common in young teams. Young is something Alcovy undoubtedly is,  as the majority of the team is composed of sophomores, while only sporting two seniors: Jaeda Haddock and Brittany Baker. 

The team’s youth, though it may hinder them a little this year, will end up playing to its advantage in the long run. By giving several sophomores a high quantity of minutes in games, Hunter is establishing a solid foundation going into the future. As this team grows, keeps up intensity and effort, and learns how to play at a high level against all opponents, they are poised to make a run in the near future.