COVINGTON, Ga. — Alcovy and Eastside girls basketball found itself in a tug of war scratching and clawing for every point, possession and advantage it could grab. A late scoring run by the Alcovy Lady Tigers allowed them to pull away from the Eastside Lady Eagles to earn a 45-32 win on Tuesday at The Eagles’ Nest.
Alcovy’s head coach Justin Hunter credited his team’s defensive game plan as the difference maker down the stretch.
“We really executed on the defensive end by giving pressure to our full court man,” Hunter said. “That helped give us some easy buckets to help with the push there at the end.”
In the final 5:43 of the contest, Alcovy outscored Eastside 15-4 after only leading by two points to begin the fourth. A large part of the point differential was offensive rebounds, a full court press and, a byproduct of the press, was transition points off turnovers.
Specifically, at the 3:33 mark of the fourth quarter, Luv Llwellyn had offensive rebounds on back-to-back possessions that she cashed in. Then, Janae Hutchersoneither stole the ball from a Lady Eagle to begin a fast break or was open under the net to convert the wide-open layup.
One time, Hutcherson did both. With 3:12 left in the game, she ripped the ball from the arms of NO. 4 at the top of the key and rushed down the court to score an and-1 layup that gave the Lady Tigers a 41-28 cushion.
Lady Eagles head coach Gladys King could be heard at times during the game, “it works when we run it.” Afterward, King elaborated that she was referring to her team’s game plan coming in to attack Alcovy’s full court press.
“[Our players] weren’t doing the press break that we worked on yesterday but, when we did it, it worked,” King said. “But when they decide to do their own thing and try to dribble through the press, it’s not going to work. And when you stop doing the things your coach tells you to do, that’s what happens.”
Even though the Lady Eagles came out on the losing end of this one, they came out of the gate with a 12-2 advantage at the end of the first. During that stretch and into the second quarter, the Lady Tigers only converted two field goals with 10 of their 14 first half points coming courtesy of the free-throw line.
On the other hand, Eastside missed 19 free throws from the charity strike coupled with 27 turnovers.
Alcovy players’ ability to make the most of its free throws seemed to help keep it in the game early on. But, in the second half, the Lady Tigers’ capitalization of extra possessions was enough to secure the win.
Numerous players made their presence known in this latest rivalry matchup.
Aysia Spivey of Eastside was the only player to score double digit points for either team with 11. Jailyn Williams had two three-pointers to give her six points and Kaliel Kracht had five.
Now, coming off its first loss of 2022, 2-1 Eastside will return home to face Ola on Saturday in another non-region matchup.
King stressed how important it is for the Lady Eagles to play as a team and to learn from Tuesday’s result moving forward.
“We’ve been balanced all year,” King said. “I’m looking for a one-man show that scores all the points. I want us to be where we have multiple players that are scoring, because it makes it harder for our opponents.”
Hutcherson led all Lady Tiger scorers with nine points, while Llwellyn had eight and Kaila Fallen finished with seven. Tajah Jackson and Josalyn Branch contributed six points apiece.
The Lady Tigers remain perfect at 3-0, as a result of the win. And they will prepare for their Region 3-AAAAAA opener next Tuesday against Jonesboro at home.
Hunter believes that, despite the unblemished mark so far, his team can still improve.
“In any sport, there’s going to be highs and lows,” Hunter said. “Whether you’re up or down, you have to maintain a consistency of being mentally locked in and willing to execute. We bent today, but we didn’t break.”