COVINGTON - Free throws saved the game for the Alcovy boys as they are once again the top boys basketball team in Region 4-AAAA after beating Jonesboro 38-32 Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers were not as fortunate in their 59-25 loss to the Lady Cardinals, who are ranked No. 3 in the Georgia Coaches Association Class AAAA poll.
Alcovy 38, Jonesboro 32
Most of Alcovy's points, 20, came from free throws with the Tigers (12-8 overall, 8-4 in 4-AAAA) adding nine two-point field goals.
"It was a big game and guys didn't want to make mistakes. We wanted to be patient and not settle for a jump shot," Alcovy coach Eugene Brown said. "We had to wait until we found holes in the defense."
The Tigers made 80 percent of their free throws, going 20-for-25.
Devon Edwards (6-for-6), Jordan Butts (5-for-5), Brad Williams (3-for-3), Jamieson Williams (2-for-2) and Julian Butts (2-for-2) were all perfect from the line.
"We have been putting a lot of emphasis on them in practice. We have estimated three losses attributed directly from poor free throw shooting," Brown said.
It was truly a battle for the top spot in the region as the game had six lead changes and five ties, including a 32-32 tie with 1:37 left in the game.
"We needed this win in the worst way. The guys were really focused and we had to find a way to win," Brown said. "They did a great job keeping their composure and getting the job done."
Jonesboro's Jesse Gardner hit both of his free throws to tie the game at 32 before Edwards allowed the Tigers to keep the lead by sinking both of his courtesy-line tries, making it 34-32.
After making his shots, Edwards saved the lead with a defensive rebound following a missed attempt by Jonesboro (11-9, 8-4).
"We only allowed two points in the fourth quarter. We have had two games in which we had held an opponent scoreless in a quarter," Brown added.
Alcovy finished its scoring from the free-throw line with Jordan Butts and Edwards on the line.
Edwards led all scorers with 10 points.
"He's just growing up in front on us. He still makes those freshman mistakes but we can live with those mistakes while he's learning and hopefully by the time we get to the playoffs he's gotten all of that out of his system," Brown said. "He just does it on both sides of the court as hard as he can and that's all we can ask of him."
Jonesboro scored its first 12 points of the game on 3-pointers but had a hard time making shots from inside the arc.
Both teams had a hard time finding the bottom of the net with the first half finishing in a 20-20 tie. The Tigers trailed 30-27 to start the final period holding Jonesboro to two points in the final quarter.
Jonesboro's scoring consisted of six 3-pointers, five field goals and four free throws.
Jonesboro 59, Alcovy 25
The Lady Tigers (3-17, 1-11) only trailed Jonesboro 4-2 before turnovers and being outplayed on the glass took its toll.
Jonesboro (19-1, 12-0) led 12-2 until Alex Tucker scored two of her game-high 11 points to make it 12-4 late in the first quarter.
From that point forward, the Lady Cardinals shut down Alcovy to end the opening half with a 34-9 lead.
Making it difficult for the Lady Tigers was the full-court press Jonesboro was playing against them.
"Once we got their press it was like, what do we do now? We just couldn't get after it. There are things we'll have to do in practice to get around things like this," Alcovy coach Kidada Holtzclaw said. "They turned around and saw the press and got intimidated."
With Jonesboro's starting five off the floor at the same time, Alcovy was able to put some points on the board.
However, they were never able to sustain a run.
On one occasion, late in the third quarter by Tucker, did the Lady Tigers score consecutive baskets.
"I don't think our kids came prepared to play. They weren't in the game mentally and it showed on the court," Holtzclaw said.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.