Alexander’s basketball program opened the second half of the season Tuesday evening at Villa Rica High School. The Lady Cougars came out and dominated early, beating the Lady Wildcats, 54-36. The AHS boys jumped out to a big first quarter lead, and then struggled over the next three quarters, losing to Villa Rica, 60-57.

The Alexander girls looked a little sluggish out of the gate due to the holiday break, but still led VR at the end of the first quarter, 15-10. However, they shook off their rust in the second quarter, taking a 31-21 halftime lead. The Lady Cougars led, 44-27 at the end of the third quarter.

“We scored pretty evenly after committing a few fouls early,” said AHS girls coach Adam Watts. “My only displeasure was what we did from the free throw line, but overall I was pleased with the win.”

Claudia Hester led the Lady Cougars with 15 points.

“Villa Rica played us zone early and that benefits Claudia,” Watts said. “She hit four 3’s and took care of the basketball.”

Alexander also had dominating performances from their two freshmen, Kiara Watson and Atara McGhaw. Watson scored 12 points and added three blocked shots. McGhaw had six points and six rebounds.

“I told the girls that after the Christmas break, they are no longer freshmen,” Watts said. “We have to make them believe they are now sophomores.”

In the boys game, Alexander jumped out to a 23-7 lead in the first quarter. However, that lead was cut down to six by halftime and the game was tied, 39-39 after the third quarter. In the fourth, the game went back and forth. The Cougars managed to take a one point lead with a minute to go, but in two of the next three possessions, they turned the ball over, allowing the Wildcats to take the lead for good with 40 seconds to play.

“They made a change defensively after the first quarter and we did not adjust,” said AHS boys coach Jason Slate. “I felt like we quit sharing the basketball like we were doing early, and we did not score. We were not able to get pressure, but still had a chance to win the game but did not make the plays down the stretch and had two big turnovers.”

Not passing has been a central theme all season long when AHS does not play well.

“It is something we preach every day,” Slate said. “When we are good we are doing it, and when we are bad we are not doing it. At some point the players and the team have to understand that. We shared the ball really well in the first quarter and we did really good. When we did not in the second quarter, we played really bad.”

Artavius Love led Alexander’s offense with 13 points. Mikell Lands-Davis, Trae Jones and Grant Howard netted 12 points each.