Lady Tigers fall to Valdosta in hoops playoffs

COVINGTON — The Lady Tigers learned the hard way about the importance of free-throw shooting as they were eliminated from the Class AAAAAA playoffs losing to Valdosta 44-42 on Friday.

The Alcovy (22-7) girls had several chances to win, or at least tie, the game in the final 15 seconds but they were 0-for-4. The Lady Tigers only made 20 percent from the line going 2-for-10.

“We’ve been focusing on free throws because we haven’t shot a great free-throw percentage all year long,” Alcovy head coach Kidada Holtzclaw said. “We talked about it being our nemesis and it showed up again.”

Alcovy started the game like they were going to dominate with Ashley Williams leading the charge. Williams had a double-double in the first scoring 10 points and bringing down 12 rebounds. Williams finished the night with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Megan Tucker and Jasmine Hodges also had positive first half production. Tucker scored eight of her 16 points in the first half while Hodges, who had eight points for the game, rebounded and had six points to take a 28-21 halftime lead.

But Valdosta (23-5) came out playing more aggressive basically shutting down Alcovy’s offense. The Lady Wildcats tied the game at 28 with 5:45 left in the third frame before Taylor Hauser hit a 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the third to give Valdosta a 37-34 lead.

Valdosta continued to keep the pressure on Alcovy as the Lady Tigers did not score again until the fourth minute of the fourth period to close the gap to 39-36.

“A lot of those were situations where we were getting hit in the face and hit in the head and slapped and grabbed,” Holtzclaw said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of people that can make shots when that’s happening.”

Tucker turned her game up a notch in the final minute getting a turnover and driving the to the basket twice to make it a 44-42 game with 22 seconds left in regulation.

The Lady Tigers had several opportunities to grab the lead. But they were able to make four free-throw shots and missed a couple of shots in the final 15 seconds.

“We missed some perimeter shots that I thought we should have knocked down but overall we were aggressive and we did exactly what our game plan called for.”