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Back at it again
Alcovy travels cross town for region matchup
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When Alcovy and Newton meet on the basketball court, it’s always a rivalry, but today’s affair will be even more hotly contested.

With just six regular season games remaining, Alcovy and Newton are fighting for Region 2-AAAAAA playoff seeding and momentum heading into the tournament.

In the girls’ game, beginning at 7 p.m., Alcovy has already locked up the top seed with an unbeaten region slate. But Newton is still trying to move up the region ladder, currently in second place, behind the Lady Tigers and even with Rockdale.

The Lady Rams are riding a five game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 11. Alcovy has won six straight and defeated Newton 40-25 at home during the two schools last meeting on Dec. 1.

While the Lady Tigers won the first meeting, Alcovy dropped its contest in the boys’ matchup with Newton picking up a 47-43 victory.

Both teams need a win today as Alcovy is striving to win for just the second time in nine games and Newton is looking to keep momentum going after a two-game win streak.

“Every game is critical for us right now,” Alcovy coach Eugene Brown said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit. We need a big win in a big way. Playing Newton in a region situation is very critical; it’s more than just a county rivalry at this point.”

The second meeting between the Rams and the Tigers could go either way after a close game the first time out. Newton came away the winner in what Brown described as a highly-contested game.

“Our youth and inexperience showed up at an inopportune time,” Brown said of the first loss.

However, Newton sees the score of the first game as one it could improve on at the foul line.

“The first time we missed a ton of free throws and won by four because we missed a ton of free throws,” Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. “I think we’re doing better lately in making our free throws and that’s obviously important when playing a team that attacks you defensively and is aggressive. When you get a foul call you want to cash in.”

The Rams have improved their free throws lately, winning two overtime games in a row after suffering their lowest point of the season and falling in three straight.

“We went through a low spot in the season,” Rasmussen said. “We’ve blown a couple in a row and this is really important for keeping our momentum.”

To do so Newton doesn’t know what kind of team it will face as Alcovy may or may not have the services of Division I Bradley University committed Michael Tucker.

Tucker was a big part of the Tigers run to the elite eight last season but started this season at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C. He played his first game back with Alcovy against Rockdale on Jan. 8 after he was deemed eligible by the Georgia High School Association since he returned to his home school after going to a boarding school.

However, since then there have been some questions as to whether the Quality Education Academy is a boarding school and Tucker hasn’t played for the Tigers lately.

“He was declared eligible but they had questions about something in the paperwork,” Brown said. “If he is (eligible), he’s a huge difference maker – he’s a spectacular ball player – if not, as long as we get it squared away by February playoff time, we’ll be OK. We’d love for that situation to be played out.”