STOCKBRIDGE - A huge fourth quarter by the Alcovy defense and the Butts brothers, Julian and Jordan, allowed the Tigers overcome a 10-point fourth quarter deficit in their 57-54 overtime win over North Clayton in the opening round of the Region 4-AAAA boys tournament Monday.
The win secured a trip to the state tournament for the Tigers.
Alcovy started the second half with back-to-back baskets by Kevin Boyle to close the gap to 25-24.
But three treys by the Eagles and several missed shots by Alcovy put North Clayton up 38-26 to start the final period.
However, a strong defense and nine fourth-quarter points by Julian Butts turned things around for the Tigers.
Also giving Alcovy hope were two crucial 3-pointers by Boyle.
"That team had us down in our previous game, and we had to stay hard on our defense and make some shots. We missed a lot of open shots," Alcovy coach Eugene Brown said.
"There was one point early in the fourth when I said, 'If they score again we're in trouble.' But we got it stopped and we got a three then I said, 'We're in business now,' and we kept it going."
Late in the third period, Brown began substituting players four or five at a time almost on each exchange based on their specialties.
"We tried to get our guys that are stronger defensively and let the guys that are scoring more get off the court and not work as hard on defense. We found some combinations that could stop them," he said.
With less than 20 seconds to play, Jordan Butts hit the game-tying basket, making it 49-49.
"He shot an air ball from about two inches," Brown said. "I don't know how he did that, but he went back and got it and stayed after it."
Alcovy scored the first four points in overtime to take its first lead of the game.
The Tigers kept the pressure going, holding on for the win.
"They responded when we got down big. That's the type of kids these are, when their backs are against the wall, they comeback after you," Brown said. "That showed me that they really want to continue playing."
Julian Butts and Boyle led the field in scoring with 14 points each.
"Julian has really improved as his playing time has increased. He knows how to score, he knows how to put the ball in the basket," Brown said.
Also scoring in double figures were Jordan Butts (11) and freshman Devon Edwards, who had the game's only double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
"That's our freshman, he made mistakes early in the game but we have to live with his mistakes," Brown said. "He's so dynamic he makes things happen. He's going to be someone to watch over the next three years."
Leading the Eagles in scoring were Zachary Bradley and Clarence Jackson with 12 and 10 points.
Alcovy's next game, to try to earn a chance to host the first round of the playoffs, will be at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Jonesboro/Mount Zion game.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.