Newton area teams begin playoff runs

COVINGTON -- Both Alcovy basketball teams get to host the first round of the playoffs while both Eastside squads and the Newton girls are on the road.

In a doubleheader starting at 6 p.m. today, the Lady Tigers (24-4) will take on the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAAA, Mundy's Mill (21-6), with the Alcovy boys (25-3) starting afterwards against Forest Park (16-11).

Tickets for the doubleheader are $10.

Even though the Alcovy boys are Region 3-AAAA champions and ranked second in Class AAAA by PrepCountry.com/GACA, that does not mean they are looking past the Panthers, who are the No. 4 seed from region 4-AAAA, considering that they are in the same region with No. 4-ranked Jonesboro and No. 10-ranked Lovejoy.

"They play really good defense and a disciplined style of basketball. They have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the basket," said Alcovy head coach Eugene Brown. "They're very formidable and we're not looking past them. If we do, they'll be moving on."

The biggest obstacle that the Tigers have to overcome is Forest Park's style of play. While Alcovy likes to play at a fast pace, the Panthers like to take things slow and easy. The Tigers are going to have to find a way to take Forest Park out of its comfort zone and force an elevated pace of play if they are to advance to the Sweet 16.

"They play a slow-down brand of basketball. They make you make good decisions and make shots. The good thing about our schedule is that we've seen that type of basketball before. We've played against teams that have competed in that fashion and we've been able to control the tempo. We want to do that again," Brown said. "We want to speed the game up and force them to play our tempo. Hopefully, our style of basketball will prevail."

After being dominated by defending state champions and Class AAAA No. 1 Fayette County 50-39 in the Region 3-AAAA championship game, the Lady Tigers have to find a way to regroup against Mundy's Mill.

Even though Alcovy only had four losses, it has always found a way to play on. It will be no different when it faces Mundy's Mill.

After losing to No. 2 ranked Jonesboro 45-38 in the region tournament, Mundy's Mill came back to beat Lovejoy 58-49 in the consolation finals. Just like the Alcovy girls, Mundy's Mill has always come back to win the game following a loss.

Having played the No. 2 team in the state, the fact that Alcovy enters the playoffs as the No. 8 team will not intimidate Mundy's Mill.

In Class AAA play, both Eastside teams are on the road for the first round even though the Lady Eagles potentially have the harder game, going up against No. 1-ranked Washington County.

In their 27 games, which they have won to remain perfect this season, the Lady Golden Hawks are averaging shy of 71 points per game. Defensively, Washington County is holding opponents to less than 42 points per game. It has held six teams to fewer than 35 points, including a season-low six points scored by Burke County.

If the Lady Eagles (16-12) hope for an upset, Alexia Somerset is going to have to have help from the rest of the team and they are going to have to play their best game and hope that Washington County stumbles. Although Somerset is a top player, she cannot beat the Golden Hawks by herself.

In the boys game at 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Eagles (15-13) have the ability to beat the higher-seeded Westlake, Augusta (19-7) team, with both teams being evenly matched.

The Patriots are averaging 60 points per game compared to Eastside's 56 points. However, the difference is on defense, where the Eagles are allowing 59 with Westlake only giving up 50.

Also making a difference is the youthfulness of the Eastside players. If the Eagles can stay focused and not let Westlake's maturity level or home-court advantage get to them, Eastside has a good chance to advance to the next level.

In the girls game between Region 2-AAAAA No. 3 seed Newton (21-7) at Region 1-AAAAA No. 2 seed Valdosta (18-6), the Lady Rams are entering the game with high hopes that they will prevail.

Even though the Wildcats guards are bigger, Newton head coach Tiffani Johnson is hoping that her girls will be able to use their speed as a way to equalize any advantage size would produce.

The other thing the Lady Rams have to do is avoid unforced turnovers.

"Turnovers are going to be key. Their offense is their defense. They pressure you, then score off the turnovers. So if we can avoid the unforced turnovers, that should put us in a position to win the game," Johnson said. "We're going into the game thinking we have a chance. We're playing to win."