E.A. Sports Today

Cubs ‘Tucker out’ Lincoln

Alexandria’s Tuckers — Luke and Jamal — spearhead effort to help Valley Cubs complete the sweep of their 3-in-3 area gauntlet

Alexandria's Jamal Tucker (C) stands poised between Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge (R) and Zay Caldwell to receive the ball in the second quarter Thursday. Jamal scored 12 second-quarter points after Luke Tucker (cover) scored the Cubs' first 10.

Alexandria’s Jamal Tucker (C) stands poised between Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge (R) and Zay Caldwell to receive the ball in the second quarter Thursday. Jamal scored 12 second-quarter points after Luke Tucker (cover) scored the Cubs’ first 10.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

LINCOLN – If there were a broom handy in the dressing room, Alexandria coach Jason Johnson probably would have swung it – if that were his style.

Instead, he preferred to keep it humble after the Valley Cubs beat Lincoln 68-55 Thursday to complete a vital three-game sweep of area rivals that put them in position to play for the area title next week.

The Cubs (11-2, 4-1) beat St. Clair County, Anniston and Lincoln over three consecutive days, with the last two coming on the road. Thursday’s win left them and Anniston as the only teams in the 5A Area 12 with one loss. They play each other in Alexandria Tuesday night.

“It was a great accomplishment by our guys to play three area games in three nights,” Johnson said. “The experience of Christmas really came in handy tonight. This is a tough place to win in. We were fortunate; very, very fortunate.”

It was two guys named Tucker who helped get the Valley Cubs through this final leg. Luke Tucker scored their first 10 points of the game and finished with a game-high 21. Jamal Tucker came off the bench to score 20.

Luke was the only one scoring for Alexandria in the first quarter as the Valley Cubs were slow out of the gate. With him playing like what Johnson called “a determined senior” and keeping pace with the Bears, the Cubs were only down two at the end of the quarter.

“I just went out playing like I always do,” Luke said. “Doing what I try to do every game.”

When his run stopped, Jamal stepped up and scored 12 of their next 16 and the Cubs led 31-22 at the half.

“It was big coming off the bench and helping the team,” Jamal said. “The starters couldn’t get it rolling at the beginning of the game, so it was good to have the bench come in and give a good effort.”

The game’s intensity ramped up in the second half. The place the momentum would have had its best chance of tipping was early in the fourth quarter when Cubs post Marcus Swink fouled out.

The Cubs were leading by 11 at the time and Lincoln did get as got as close as five, but could never overtake them.

It might have helped had the Bears hit a few more of the 3-pointers they readily put up. Lincoln coach Rush Rutledge didn’t have the chart in front of him, but estimated the Bears were “one for so many I lost count” from behind the arc, and the one they hit came with less than three minutes to go in the game.

Rutledge made the bold decision not to start leading scorer Dee Whiteside or play him in the first half to make a disciplinary point. Whiteside entered the game in the third quarter and played like a man eager to make up for lost time. He was active in the offense and the defense and finished with a team-high 13 points.

“He played hard,” Rutledge said. “But like I told our guys, I don’t fault the effort. It’s the fundamental part of it that kills us. We can break this down any way we want to, they did what they needed to do to win a ballgame.”

The Valley Cubs may not have clinched the most favorable seed in the area tournament, but they did get something just as valuable.

“We’re not in fourth; we’ll take that right now and well see what happens after that,” Johnson said. “The key thing is not being that fourth seed having to play the No. 1 seed at their place.

“That’s why last night’s win (at Anniston) was big. Just little tiny steps. OK, now we’re not fourth, now we’re into second/third and then, hey, we still have a shot at winning the thing.”

Alexandria 68, Lincoln 55

ALEXANDRIA (11-2) — Riley Shaw 1 0-2 2, Chase Smitherman 0 0-0 0, Austin Taylor 0 0-0 0, A.J. Martin 0 0-0 0, Dalton Dodd 3 0-0 6, Gerald Murphy 3 1-1 7, Cole Nail 0 0-2 0, Jamal Tucker 5 7-11 20, Jordan Romine 0 0-0 0, Caleb Young 3 1-2 7, Marcus Swink 2 1-2 5, Luke Tucker 5 9-11 21. Totals 22 19-31 68.

LINCOLN (15-4) — Isaac Davis 0 0-1 0, Zay Caldwell 4 3-5 12, Tyler Hemphill 3 3-5 9, Malik Weed 4 1-2 9, Terez Ellis 0 0-0 0, Quin Carmichael 1 0-0 2, Dee Whiteside 5 3-3 13, L.J. Carmichael 3 0-0 6, Chris Prince 2 0-0 4 Savion Woods 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-16 55.

Alexandria 10 21 18 19 — 68
Lincoln 12 10 13 20 — 55

3-point goals: Alexandria 5 (J. Tucker 3, L. Tucker 2); Lincoln 1 (Caldwell). Fouled out: Swink. Total fouls: Alexandria 16, Lincoln 23. Officials: Burroughs, Watson, Calkins.

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