COVINGTON, Ga. — For the second consecutive season, the Alcovy boys’ basketball team’s hopes of making the state playoffs rested on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
For the second the consecutive season, the shot didn’t fall.
The Tigers came up short on their home court against rival Rockdale County, 64-61, in the Region 3-AAAAAA tournament Wednesday night. The defeat marked the end of the road for the club’s campaign. They finished 11-12 overall.
“The scary thing is we finished .500 in the regular season last year. We ended up being 12-13 because of the region playoff game, which we lost by three points,” Alcovy head coach Mack Hardwick noted. “We had a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, and the exact same thing happened again [Wednesday.] The exact same thing.
“It’s really a nightmare. It’s literally the exact same thing as last year.”
Alcovy’s season appeared to be all but over when Rockdale County pushed its lead out to 64-58 with 20 ticks of the clock remaining. But the Tigers weren’t done yet.
A 3-pointer from Bobby Smith quickly cut the deficit in half. Then, desperate to intentionally foul and hope for the best at the free-throw line, Alcovy was gifted a final shot as an errant Rockdale County pass sailed out of bounds with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Timeout was called. A scheme was crafted in the Tiger huddle to manufacture an open look. The game-tying 3-point attempt was in the air before the final buzzer sounded.
But the shot fell short, sealing Alcovy’s fate.
“In all honesty, an open shot, you can’t ask for anything better than that,” Hardwick said. “I have no complaints either way.”
Despite fighting for their lives late in the game, the Tigers seized control early Wednesday. After trading blowing in the opening quarter, they went into the second with a 20-15 lead before stretching it out to 27-17 at the 5:15 mark.
Rockdale County countered with a run of its own late in the first half, but Alcovy trotted into the locker room with a healthy 36-29 advantage.
The gap closed in the third quarter as a flurry turnovers and fouls kept the Bulldogs alive. But when the quarter drew to a close, the Tigers still found themselves in front — grappling a 49-48 lead — with one period left in regulation.
The first points of the fourth quarter came when Rockdale County junior Johnny Collins stepped in front of a pass at mid-court, intercepted it and raced in for the go-ahead layup. The bucket set a new tone for the Bulldogs, who would go on to lead for the remainder of the night.