Alcovy's first trip to the Class AAAA Final Four was one they'll remember forever but soon like to forget.
Needing a big game out of forward Ashley Williams and point guard Meagan Tucker in particular in order to advance to the final, the Tigers received neither.
Williams was saddled by foul trouble and without her inside, Miller Grove forced Alcovy to beat them on the perimeter. It didn't happen. Tucker had a quiet 14 points and the Wolverines ended the Tigers' season with a 42-34 win to move on to face Southwest DeKalb for the state title.
"We had opportunities in the paint. We had seven misses in the first half and 13 in the second," Alcovy coach Kidada Holtzclaw said. "Maybe we were tight, I don't know. When you can't capitalize on opportunities like that it makes it tough to win. That's what happened to us tonight."
The game started ominously when Miller Grove's Katie Hunt corralled the opening tip and took it the wrong way for an uncontested layup to give Alcovy a 2-0 lead. Tucker was credited with the bucket. Hunt scored a game-high 17 points.
After the Tigers opened an 8-4 lead midway through the period, both teams played sloppily over the final three minutes of the opening quarter and the Wolverines took a 9-8 lead after a buzzer beater.
Alcovy showed its frustration in the opening minutes of the second quarter as the scoring drought and turnovers continued. Williams picked up her second foul early on and was forced to the bench and the Tigers couldn't get a good look at the basket. When they did get a shot off, it was off balance or tightly contested.
"We were looking to get the ball inside - that was one of our plans, and we didn't execute well," Holtzclaw said. "We knew one of the keys to winning the game was limiting turnovers and we just weren't aggressive enough with the ball."
Miller Grove failed to take advantage though. As poorly as Alcovy played, the Wolverines had their own struggles, missing seven straight free throws at one point and were just as ineffective from the field. As a result, the Tigers trailed by just two at halftime.
Williams picked up her third foul near the five-minute mark in the third and again the Tigers struggled on offense. Without their best inside player, Alcovy was forced to play on the perimeter where Miller Grove's length proved problematic.
"Ashley plays hard. Some of those fouls she had were on hustle plays," Holtzclaw said. "She's running after the ball and dives after a ball and a kid goes down with her and the foul was on her. You know, that's tough. A foul is a foul though. That took away some of what we wanted to do offensively."
After Tucker opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, Miller Grove went into keep-a-way mode. A pair of exchanged buckets later, Williams was forced to the bench again after picking up her fourth foul with 5:30 left.
Alcovy crept to within three but Miller Grove attacked the paint and the Tigers had no answer with Williams on the bench. Two Hunt free throws pushed the Wolverines' lead to eight inside of four minutes and Alcovy continued to find no relief on the perimeter.
Williams returned with a little more than three minutes to play and immediately put the Tigers on her back. She scored six straight points to get Alcovy to within four. But Hunt was clutch down the stretch from the free throw line, making five of six free throws to kill the Tigers' comeback hopes.
"We had a fantastic season. We have a lot of things to be proud of," Holtzclaw said. "Our girls worked tremendously hard but we just couldn't find the bottom of the net tonight."