Cougars Ranked No. 1

Top-Ranked Cougars Eyeing Region Crown as Regular Season Wraps
Posted on 01/27/2023
Alexander High School’s men's basketball team has been Class 6A’s top-ranked team for the past eight weeks. 

Undoubtedly, being among the best teams in the state brings pressure. However, AHS and head coach Jason Slate have adopted the mentality of another well-known team who wears red and black and are continuing to find ways to hunt success rather than be hunted by their opponents. 

“Early on, I wasn’t sure how we’d handle being ranked No. 1, but I think it’s good that it happened now. We’ve kind of gotten used to it,” said Slate. “Everyone thinks that we’ve got the target on our back, but we’re trying to turn it around and say that we’re putting a target on your back and we’re coming after you.”

For the Cougars, success is nothing new. Last season, the team finished with a record of 24-5 and took a No. 2 seed from their region into the state tournament. Despite the high seeding, AHS dropped a close one to eventual state champion Grovetown in the Sweet 16. 

The Cougars took several lessons from that defeat. These lessons, along with several returning players from last year’s team, have kept the team hungry even with much success this year. 

“We’re hoping that we’re going to finish the business that we thought last year’s team would,” said Slate. “It was kind of an unfortunate deal to have a couple of kids sick in the region finals and having our best player get ejected for something that didn’t happen. It was unfortunate we had to go to Grovetown in the second round. So what we’re trying to do is not put ourselves in that position this year. We need to come out as the No. 1 seed.”

Along with being a year more experienced, the Cougars have also played a more difficult schedule this season. According to MaxPreps, AHS has the sixth most difficult schedule in the state regardless of classification, and Slate is hopeful that this regular season preparation will serve the Cougars well in the competitive state playoffs. 

“We’ve played top-ranked teams in Georgia, the No. 1 team in Alabama, and a couple of the top rated teams in Florida. We’ve tried to make our schedule very difficult,” said Slate. “We wanted to put our guys in the toughest situations we could so that they can rely on those experiences hopefully in the state tournament.”

As the regular season comes to a close, Slate and the Cougars are in the driver’s seat in Region 5-6A with five games remaining before the region tournament begins. But even with an undefeated region record, Slate was quick to mention that there are no guarantees in a region as competitive as this one. 

To stay sharp, Slate and his staff are focusing on the areas where the team can improve, as focusing on these is one of the ways that he hopes to keep the team engaged and hungry as the regular season ends and their pursuit of a state title commences in the playoffs. 

“First, we’ve got to respect our opponent. We don’t want to fear anyone, but we’ve also got to respect everyone, because everyone in our region is good enough to beat us if we don’t show up,” said Slate. “We also don’t feel that we’ve played a full game yet. We’ve put a couple of quarters together, so our goal is to play more of a complete game down the stretch.”

AHS has five games remaining in the regular season before the region tournament begins. Tonight, the team travels to Newnan for another region matchup. The Cougars return home on Tuesday for another region matchup with crosstown rival Douglas County High School. Tipoff for both games is at 7:30 p.m.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.