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Alpharetta free throws doom Duluth girls, Collins Hill boys

ALPHARETTA -- It didn't take a long look at the stat sheet to figure out the deciding factor in both ends of Wednesday night's first-round Class AAAAAA state tournament doubleheader at Alpharetta High School.

In both the girls and boys games against Gwinnett opponents from Region 7-AAAAAA, the host Raiders connected on 30 free throws, including numerous points from the line down the stretch.

Alpharetta's girls went 30-for-41 from the line, with Kylee Smith hitting 11 of 13 on her way to a game-high 23 points in a 69-53 win over Duluth.

In the nightcap, the Raider boys went 30-for-37 at the line, with Ty Toney hitting 13 of 14 -- including eight straight in the last 48.3 seconds -- as Alpharetta held on for a 73-69 win over Collins Hill.

After scoring 18 of his game-high 29 points in the first half, the Eagles (17-11) held Toney to just one field goal in the second half, but the eight free throws helped the Raiders (20-9) hold off the Collins Hill rally and move into a second-round match-up with Berkmar here Saturday night.

The free throws by Toney and his teammates -- 17 of 20 fourth-quarter attempts -- allowed Alpharetta to overcome a furious comeback attempt in which Collins Hill rallied from as much as a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter, and a nine-point hole early in the fourth.

The Eagles used a 14-2 run over a 2:51 span of the final frame to pull even at 58-58 after a 3-pointer from Devin Mitchell with 3:32 to play.

But Alpharetta hit 5 of 6 free throws over the next 1:20 to regain the lead for good, and then kept hitting as Collins Hill refused to go away down the stretch.

"When we were tied and down one, we took a bad shot here or there," Eagles coach Eric Nathan said. "I know we battled back, but we couldn't get over the hump."

Mitchell had a pretty good night at the line, as well, hitting 10 of 12 on his way to a team-high 23 points.

But Alpharetta countered with a 7-for-7 night from the line from Connor Ramsey, part of a 13-point night, while Carlos Burse scored seven of his 19 points from the line.

The Raiders were also strong from behind the 3-point arc by hitting nine 3-pointers, including four from Burse and two each from Toney and Ramsey.

Collins Hill wound up with seven 3-pointers, three from Mitchell and two each from Darius Joell (15 points on the night) and Awbrey Rucker.

The girls game was much of the same, with Alpharetta (25-4) making a living at the free-throw line.

"I felt like at times defensively, we just didn't move our feet to get out in front and cut people off," Duluth coach Chad Pittman said. "(Alpharetta) did a great job at the free-throw line. Their guards did a really good job of getting there."

The Raiders never trailed by any more than six in the first half and usually was within four points or less.

But the Wildcats held only two brief leads, the last at 20-19 after an Aerial Carruthers jumper in transition with 5:37 left in the half, and spend most of the opening 16 minutes playing catch-up.

Still, Katie Powell and Joi Jones helped keep the Wildcats close by combining for 20 first-half points, and when Powell hit a pair of free throws with 42.1 seconds left in the half, it pulled Duluth even at 31-31.

But a three-point play from Smith with 18 seconds left in the half not only send Alpharetta into intermission with a 34-31 lead, it marked the third personal foul on Powell.

After Duluth pulled as close as 34-33 on Aliyah McGriff's basket 34 seconds into the second half, Alpharetta pulled away by outscoring the Wildcats 16-10 in the third quarter.

The Raiders then used a 7-3 run over the first 3:48 of the fourth to build a double-digit lead before putting the game away at the line despite a big night from Powell, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Jones, who had 13 points, seven boards and three assists.

The Wildcats also got nine points and five boards from McGriff, while Jazmyn Johnson came off the bench to contribute six points, four rebounds and four steals.

Lauren Brown (7 of 8 at the line) had 14 points and Vashnie Perry (7 of 12 FT) had 13 for Alpharetta.

Comments

CHfan66 1 year, 5 months ago

The clock operator started the clock after Collins Hill MADE a free throw with less than 15 seconds to go in the game. Nearly 4 seconds ran off the clock while Alpharetta was trying to inbounds the ball. When made aware of this, the referees did nothing. Just a bit of home cookin' going on over there in Alpharetta last night!

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