Make room on the bus ladies. A night after Alcovy's girls' basketball team defeated top-seeded Warner Robbins on the road to advance to the Elite Eight, the boys punched their own ticket to Fort Valley State University with a SCORE win over Bainbridge.
The Tigers (27-3) used a 27-point third quarter fueled by six 3-pointers to break open a tied game at halftime and take a 12-point lead into the final period. They finished with nine from downtown for the game.
"We had open looks in the first half we just had the wrong guys out there or the shots weren't falling," Alcovy coach Eugene Brown said.
"At some point someone is going to get it going. We just doing what we were doing offensively and getting into position and the defense picked up from there. It wasn't going to be like that all night in our own gym."
Michael Tucker and Devin Gerald each had a pair of threes in the decisive quarter. Tucker scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half and Gerald finished with 12 on four 3-pointers.
It was Gerald's shooting in the first half that got the Tigers going.
With his team down 20-14 midway through the second quarter, Gerald hit his first three to make it a 20-17 game. After a Bainbridge bucket, Gerald responded with another three to make it a two-point game.
"He (Gerald) was the spark we needed in that second quarter to get us going," Brown said. "He did an outstanding job. His defense has improved enough where he can stay out there and he was just making shots. He's a phenomenal shooter. We see it every day in practice."
Devon Edwards capped the quarter with a driving buzzer beater to tie the game at 26 heading into halftime. Edwards scored a team-high 21 on the night.
Alcovy opened the game slowly much like they did against Forest Park Last Friday. The Tigers struggled on the defensive glass in the first half and Bainbridge made them pay.
"We prepared for those two long guys all week," Brown said. "We focused on that but these are high school kids. They may have forgot about that."
After taking an 11-10 lead in the first quarter, the Bearcats extended their lead to six before Gerald's two 3-pointers. The Tigers closed the half on a 10-4 run to tie the game.
The third quarter started with a flurry of threes. Gerald and Tucker each hit two and Deandre Butler and Edwards added one apiece as Alcovy went up by as many as 14 late in the period. Butler finished the game with 14 points to give the Tigers four players in double figures.
Bainbridge threw caution to the wind in the fourth quarter and started launching threes on nearly every possession. The Bearcats ragged approach nearly paid off as they starting finding the bottom of the net. They closed to within six under a minute but it was too little too late, despite outscoring the Tigers 22-15 over the final five minutes.
Paul Chutes had a game-high 23 points for the Bearcats. He scored 14 in the second half. Trea Kelly had 15 while Dontavius Marshall was also in double figures with 10.
Up next is North Clayton, a team the Tigers are familiar with from their days playing in Region 4-AAAA. Alcovy is 2-4 in six matchups against the Eagles with both wins coming in 2008-09. One of those wins was in the Region 4-AAAA tournament to send the Tigers to the state playoffs. One more win and the Tigers reach the Final Four at Gwinnett Arena.
"We just talked about that," Brown said. "We don't have any time to do much of anything. We'll prepare for what they do but we have to do what we do. At this point we're not going to change anything and whoever we are playing isn't going to change anything and it'll be a matter of who gets into their style of play sooner and executes best."