Injuries derailed the Alcovy girls basketball team before it could ever truly get started last season.
Fresh off a tremendous sophomore campaign, a knee injury ended Serai Johnson’s season without her playing a single minute for the Tigers. Midway through the season, the Tigers lost another standout on offense, U’nique Reed, to a knee injury of her own.
As a result, the Tigers struggled to compete in a competitive Region 3-AAAAAA and finished just 1-9. On the season, the Tigers finished a disappointing 6-20 and ended with only one win in their last 15 games played.
Needless to say, Alcovy head coach Justin Hunter struggled to keep the Tigers afloat at times last season.
‘We dealt with the health bug last season for the first time in a long time in far as my tenure of high school coaching,” Hunter said. “That was a detriment. With that, it caused us to make some adjustments. We’re getting those players back and they’ve had a full year to get healthy and to get their confidence back.”
Hunter and the Tigers didn’t waste much time getting back to work during the offseason. It was there that Hunter began to get a sense that despite the recent struggles, the confidence and talent level was headed for a boost.
“We had a good summer run at a couple of the camps that we went to,” Hunter said. “They played good collectively and were under control. We hope those things will translate into the regular season. Going into our offseason conditioning, some of them committed a little more to doing that and understanding it. I definitely know that these girls can see the importance of pushing themselves.”
With both Johnson and Reed returning to the starting lineup for the Tigers, they will be paired with seniors Dahlia Bolden and Ajoyous Tuggle, both of whom are expected to play major roles this season.
“I think they have enough varsity experience,” Hunter said of Bolden and Tuggle. “Both have played since the ninth grade. It’s very rewarding to see the fruits of their labor matriculate. I’m just hoping that the can cash in on their goal, which is to qualify for the state playoffs. That has been a void here at Alcovy a minute.”
Hunter and the Tigers are also set to intricate several underclassmen into the rotation.
“There are a couple of underclassmen that could get into the rotation this year,” Hunter said. “We have a freshman by the name of T’Erica Smith. We played a scrimmage game last week against Greenforest and she looked very confident coming off of the bench.”
Smith is expected to receive playing time at both point and shooting guard.
While Hunter likes his mix of guards and bigs, his team’s experience at the guard position, he thinks, will bode very well with the current run-and-gun scheme he implements at Alcovy.
“I think our scheme has been productive,” Hunter said. “With us, It’s trying to focus on the basics on capitalizing on self control. Such as open layups and free throws. Things that are going to happen in a game regardless of what you’re drawing up. We have to take advantage of those things.”