Though they kept Tucker to less than 40 points — holding Texas A&M signee Devonte Fitzgerald to 10 and highly recruited junior Jubari Craig to three — the Buccaneers’ struggles after intermission left them with a 37-33 loss in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs
Allatoona (23-7) shot 16 percent (4-for-25) from the field in the second half and was an uncharacteristic 8-for-17 from the free-throw line in the game.
“We had looks and everything that we could have asked for, but, sometimes, (shots) don’t go in,” Allatoona coach Markus Hood said. “The kids did great in shutting down Fitz and Craig.”
Daniel Fowler was effective on both sides of the court with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Buccaneers, while Shamar Griffin came off the bench to score eight behind a pair of 3-pointers.
As a team, however, Allatoona couldn’t do enough in the second half. After leading 21-14 at the half, Tucker’s shooting percentage skyrocketed as the Buccaneers’ headed in the other direction.
It took most of the third quarter for the Tigers to orchestrate a 16-2 run, and Allatoona didn’t get its first field goal of the period until Fowler put back a missed shot in the final minute.
Tucker shot 50 percent (6-for-12) in the third.
“You’ve got to get more than 14 points in the first half in the second round of the state tournament,” said Tucker coach James Hartry, whose team will face Region 6AAAAA rival Miller Grove in the quarterfinals. “I knew that we still had a play left in us, and the third quarter was good for us.”
Even though Allatoona allowed Tucker to dominate the third, it only trailed by four, 30-26, with an entire quarter left to play. The Buccaneers, however, couldn’t get any closer than three as a result of their missed shots.
Once the fourth quarter neared the halfway point, with Tucker leading by five, the Tigers started chewing clock by holding on to the ball, forcing Allatoona foul.
Tucker’s five-point lead grew to six, but Allatoona made things interesting when Griffin nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:10 left to play.
The Buccaneers just couldn’t do enough in the final 2 minutes. Fowler and Austin Faulkner both missed open shots during a lengthy possession. The Buccaneers had another chance to tie it with 22 seconds left after Tucker missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Faulkner’s open 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.
After a pair of free throws by Devontae Reynolds pushed Tucker’s lead to five, Fowler hit a jump shot with 7 seconds left to get Allatoona within three.
But Allatoona was forced to foul, and Fitzgerald made it a two-possession game by hitting one of two free throws.
“I hate it that it had to end when we felt we should be moving on,” Hood said. “We left too many shots out there.”