In a scene echoing Super Bowl Super Bowl XLVII between San Francisco and Baltimore, a blackout took center stage Tuesday night during the fourth quarter of the Rockdale County Bulldogs and Alcovy Tigers’ region tilt at Cleveland Stroud Gymnasium.
With the game tied 50-50 with 4:23 left to go, Rockdale County’s gymnasium lighting faltered, but in the end, it was the Bulldogs who shinned the brightest, clipping the Tigers 62-56 despite scoring just six points in the third quarter.
Senior Darryl Tucker led a trio of Bulldogs in double figures with 14 points on senior night, but Rockdale had to hold off a pesky Alcovy team that looked determined to rebound from a 101-23 loss to rival Eastside just three days earlier.
With the game tied at 56-56, Rockdale held the Tigers scoreless over the game’s final 2:48, closing the game on a 6-0 run, including a 3-of-4 mark from the free-throw line, to improve to 4-6 in Region 2-AAAAAA.
“It was good to get a win on senior night,” Rockdale coach Al Williams said. “I’m going to miss my guys. We had a tough one tonight, but we played a lot of players and got a lot of guys experience. I knew that they would be able to pull it out in the end.”
Rockdale led 43-42 entering the fourth quarter, but Alcovy strung together an 8-5 run to tie the game.
Cameron Banks started the scoring run with a reverse layup along the baseline and Davonte Long scored back-to-back layups to tie the game at 48-48.
Rockdale and Alcovy traded baskets until the 11-minute blackout and play resumed with limited lighting with both teams tied at 50-50.
Tucker used the rest from the game stoppage to score on a pair of shots under the basket and Conner Ferrell was fouled on a pull-up jumper that hit the bottom of the net, pushing the Bulldogs ahead 56-52.
Alcovy responded with a LaReco Herring jumper and a Glendale Hodge put-back, but Hodges’ score was the Tigers’ last basket of the night.
Jalen Jordan turned the Tigers over with 2:09 left in the game and scored on a layup and Tajee Steele and Ferrell combined to hit three free throws in the final 2:26 to seal the Rockdale win.
“We made a lot of runs tonight and made it a tough game,” Alcovy coach Eric Hollier said. “I’m extremely proud of this team. The Eastside game demolished us, but these guys came back with a willingness to fight. They battled and fought hard and it was unfortunate that towards the end we came up short.”
Alcovy held the Bulldogs to just six points in the third quarter, erasing a 37-26 halftime deficit. The Tigers opened the period on a 13-2 run, with Banks pacing the Tigers with five points during the quarter.
Tucker scored the first basket of the quarter for the Bulldogs with 7:58 left in the period, but the Bulldogs didn’t score again for over six minutes, allowing Alcovy to tie the contest 39-39. Greg Perry initiated the Alcovy run with a layup and a Herring jumper and Banks 3-pointer brought the Tigers within six of the Bulldogs.
Jordan Heron converted a layup that hit the top of the backboard and fell through the net and Banks tied the game minutes later on a jumper just inside the 3-point line. Tucker broke the Bulldogs scoreless streak with back-to-back baskets, including a dunk, scoring all six of the Bulldogs’ points in the third.
Rockdale led by as many as eight in the first quarter, marching out to an 11-3 advantage. Jamal Turner and Ferrell scored all 11 of the Bulldogs’ opening points, including seven from Turner. Alcovy trimmed the lead to 17-14 after Banks hit a 3-pointer and converted a layup, but Brian Jessie answered with a layup, giving the Bulldogs a 19-14 first-quarter lead.
Jordan scored five consecutive points for Rockdale to open up the second quarter, giving Rockdale a 10-point advantage. The Bulldogs went on a 7-0 to take a 16-point advantage with 2:55 left in the period, despite turning the ball over eight times in the period.
Turnovers came back to haunt the Bulldogs in the final two minutes of the half, as Rockdale coughed up the ball five times over the final two minutes, leading to back-to-back scores by Banks.
Ferrell finished with 12 points and Turner added 10 to join Tucker in double figures.
Banks was the lone Tiger to score in double figures with 23 points, including 16 in the first half.
Before the game, Rockdale honored seniors Julian McKnight, Turner and Tucker for Senior Night.
Rockdale returns to action Wednesday at home against Newton at 6 p.m., while the Tigers host Luella Friday in region action.