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Slow start deters Alcovy
Alcovy coach David Baker discusses strategy with his players during a timeout against Rockdale County Friday night. The Lady Tigers fell 70-56 to the visiting Lady Bulldogs.

Alcovy point guard Waneisha Morris broke the 20-point mark Friday night in region action, but the senior’s 26-point effort wasn’t enough to overcome visiting Rockdale County, as the Lady Tigers fell 70-56 at home.

Brianna Patton and Sydney Fields led the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points each, while three other Rockdale players finished in double figures.

Alcovy led 3-2 a minute into the first quarter after Morris drained a 3-pointer on her first shot of the night, but the slim advantage turned out to be the Lady Tigers’ lone lead in a 24-point drubbing.

Rockdale rebounded after falling on the road just two nights earlier to rival Newton, but Rockdale coach Gladys King said the Lady Bulldogs came out with a much higher intensity level against the Lady Tigers, helping Rockdale clamp down on Alcovy with its fervid defense.

“I thought we came out better than we did the other night against Newton,” King said. “We came out more aggressive with our defense and that was one of the things I asked our girls to do.

“We got a good game tonight from Sydney Fields, and I challenged her before the game to come out and play strong,” she said. “She’s at the top of our defensive press and she was aggressive. We called her number and she stepped up. She had a few steals at the start of the game and set the tone for us in the first quarter. We set the tone coming out in that kind of intense fashion.”

After Morris’ make from beyond the arc in the first quarter, Rockdale went on a 17-0 run, using six points from Shebreta Alexander in the quarter to take a 13-point advantage. The Lady Bulldogs held Alcovy scoreless for more than four minutes during the stretch, but the Lady Tigers fought back, closing the quarter on a 10-4 run.

Alcovy’s Tierra Hodges converted a layup to end Rockdale’s scoring run, and Morris went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line over the final three minutes to cut Rockdale’s advantage to 23-13 heading into the second quarter.

The Lady Tigers’ offense struggled in the second quarter, scoring just eight points, while missing a plethora of shots around the rim. Alcovy missed more than six shots from within 3 feet of the basket in the first half, highlighting the Lady Tigers’ offensive struggles.

“(Our) fundamentals these last four games have killed us,” Alcovy coach David Baker said. “I’m not going to let up. We need those fundamentals.”

Both teams traded baskets in the second period, with Rockdale narrowly outscoring the Lady Tigers 12-8. A Patton layup and a Fields’ basket helped the Lady Bulldogs hold on to their 10-point advantage in the waning minutes of the half, as Rockdale carried a 31-21 lead into halftime.

Alcovy hung around with Rockdale again in the third, cutting the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to single digits with 1:36 left in the period on a Keidra Sears’ steal and layup. Sears converted an old-fashioned 3-point play after the layup, but Rockdale drained a pair of 3-pointers from Jonai Jackson and Patton to extend its lead to 13 heading into the fourth.

Morris scored 11 points in the final quarter for the Lady Tiger as part of Alcovy’s 21-point fourth quarter. The Lady Tigers’ Daja Barnes, Morris and Sears connected with shots behind the arc in the period, but every time the Lady Tigers threatened, Rockdale responded.

Alcovy trimmed the lead to 10 with 5:51 to go in the contest on a Morris jumper, but Rockdale’s balanced scoring attack saw Patton, Alexander, Jackson, Sojouner Hall and Tamera Sanders finish with at least four points each in the period. Sanders was a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final minutes of play, sealing the 70-56 victory.

Despite the loss, Baker said he liked the attitude that he saw in the Lady Tigers.

“Today, the fight was exactly like I needed,” Baker said. “The fight was there and they believed it. I use that word a lot – believe, believe, believe – but we really (are) just rebuilding. Losing at home is tough, but these next nine games, I think (they’ll) really believe in each other. We’re getting our team chemistry going. We’re just fighting through this adversity right now.”

Wimbush finished with 11 points, joining Morris in double figures for Alcovy.

Alcovy returns to action Saturday afternoon against Westlake, while the Lady Bulldogs travel to rival Heritage.

“I want to see the same result we had tonight,” King said. “We have to keep putting pressure on teams.”

Game time is set for 4:30 p.m.