COVINGTON -- Thirteen of the 16 players on this year's Alcovy basketball team have varsity experience. That is why a trip to the Gwinnett Arena for the Class AAAA Final Four tournament is not goal they feel they can't achieve.
"We're more of a complete team now because we can do it on both sides of the floor. We're going to keep up with the defensive tenacity and then expand what we do offensively," Alcovy head coach Eugene Brown said. "I thought we had a decent shot last year (win region) but we got upset in the semifinals. We look at the region and we were 10-2 last year. I feel that we have a better team this year. A lot of those teams were senior dominated. We feel pretty good about that but are not taking anybody lightly.
Among those returning are Michael Tucker, Justin Wallace, Fred Vance, Juwan Henderson and their leading scorer Devon Edwards.
The key to stopping Alcovy in the past couple of years was to stop Edwards. However, a group composed of with this amount of talent and experience stopping one player will hurt them in the end as the rest of the team has the ability to score just as many points as Edwards.
"It's a good thing that teams know about him so they can try to focus on him, Brown said of Edwards. "When they do that we have guys that have scored 20 or more points in a game.
"They have talent. I've been around kids that have been to that level (state championship game) before. The thing with this group is that we don't have to hide anybody. In the past years we've made it to the state tournament but we have to hide somebody on the offense. We have always had some deficiencies offensively and they always seem to find themselves with the ball in the most inopportune times. We've done a good job of schematically hiding people by not having them handle the ball. This year we don't have to do that. We have several guys players that can out the ball on the floor and several guys that can shoot the ball."
Of the 16 players returning, all of them, with the exception of senior Devon Gerald who transferred from Eastside, have been with the program for at least three years. While Brown normally does not keep that many players on the roster, he feels that each and every one of them bring something to the team that makes them special.
Alcovy's team will consist of none seniors, four juniors and three sophomores.
"Usually you keep that many kids when you don't have any coming back but I have seven underclassmen that are all really good. We have a good mix of kids that have been in the program and understand the system and what we're trying to do," said Brown.
Brown has another thing this year he has not had before -- players with height. Najel Flowers, a senior, is their tallest player at 6-foot-6 inches followed by Tucker and Wallace, both juniors, who are 6-5 with junior Lorenzo Kelly and sophomore Derrius Mathis listed at 6-4.
"They're all athletic and they all work extremely hard. They all bring some skill set," Brown said. "They're a very confident group. They feel good about all the positions and what each player brings to the table and their role on the team. We've done the state (playoff) a few times now and they're trying to get to the next level."