COVINGTON, Ga. — The Alcovy girls’ and boys’ basketball teams tipped off their respective Region 3-AAAAAA slates in their home gym against Grovetown on Tuesday.
There was a stark contrast in competitiveness between the two games, but Alcovy came out on the wrong side of both.
Grovetown Girls 78, Alcovy Girls 28
The Lady Tigers had a rough go of it against the defending Region 3 champions.
Grovetown opened the game with nine unanswered points, storming out to a 20-8 lead by the end of the opening quarter. Their lead continued to grow exponentially in the second period, allowing the Lady Warriors to coast into the locker room with a 39-17 advantage.
Alcovy was overmatched, and Grovetown continued to take advantage of that in the second half as the Lady Tiger deficit eventually ballooned to 50 points by the final buzzer.
Despite fielding a young squad and having five inactive players on Tuesday, Alcovy head coach Justin Hunter wasn’t looking to make any excuses for his team’s performance.
“You still have to go through and play the game as if everybody’s there,” Hunter said. “You’re just trying to compete because that’s what this is at the end of the day — competition.”
The road won’t get much easier for the Lady Tigers later this week. On Friday, they’re scheduled to host a Rockdale County (9-2, 1-0) club that went 22-8 in Class AAAAAAA last winter.
“We’re playing the top of the crop in the region right now, which lets us know where we’re at. It’s the measuring stick for where we’ve got to go,” Hunter said.
Grovetown Boys 73, Alcovy Boys 72
The Tigers opened region play with a heartbreaking loss.
Trailing 61-51 in the fourth quarter, Alcovy continue began chipping away at its deficit. A switch from zone defense to man, coupled by timely shots from the likes of senior Tyreek Singleton, sophomore Steven Moore and junior Byron Howard, allowed the Tigers to claw their way back into the game.
Knotted up at 71 points apiece with less 1:30 left in regulation, Grovetown senior Julius Brown drew a foul on a shot attempt. He drained a pair of free throws, giving the Warriors a two-point cushion.
Singleton later drew a foul on a layup attempt from the left side of the basket, earning a trip to the charity stripe with a chance to tie the game. He sank the first shot, but the second one clanged out with 21.7 seconds remaining.
Alcovy’s defense clamped down, allowing the Tigers to inbound the ball at midcoast with 6.3 seconds to go. Singleton put the ball into play, received it back in a pass and raced down the right side of the court to attempt a game-winning layup. He missed the shot but was fouled at the 0.5 second mark, resulting in two free throws with the game on the line.
However, he missed both shots, sealing Grovetown’s one-point victory.
After the loss, Alcovy head coach Mack Hardwick offered comforting words for his players. He employers them to “Take this as a learning lesson.”
“Grow from it,” he said. “Remember the pain and remember how it feels.”
Hardwick lauded his team for their ability to battle back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He credited his defense for locking down shooters and generating scoring opportunities on the other side of the court.
“The big thing that I liked was our boys had the mental fortitude to make sure that they fall back using what we do — which is defense — and keeping a positive outlook on the game,” Hardwick said. “There were a lot of different times when they could’ve given up, hung their heads, but they fought to the very end.”
Despite his struggles at the free-throw line late, Singleton poured in 14 points for the Tigers. Senior Trevon Howze scored a team-high 17 points in less than three quarters before missing the majority of the second half due to a nagging injury.
Alcovy will welcome new region foe Rockdale County to their gym this Friday night. The Bulldogs (7-3, 1-0) are in the midst of their first season in Class AAAAAA after reclassifying from Class AAAAAAA last year.