But the Buccaneers needed to foul and hope for Alexander to miss a couple of shots from the free-throw line.
No such luck.
The Cougars swished all 10 of their free-throw attempts during the final minute and pulled away to seal a 56-48 victory Friday in the semifinals of Allatoona’s Lake City Classic.
“It’s hard to beat anyone when they’re doing that,” Allatoona coach Markus Hood said.
Alexander will play Central Gwinnett, which defeated Marietta in Friday’s earlier semifinal, for the championship tonight, leaving Allatoona (8-3) to face Marietta for third place.
While Allatoona had a chance to win, it had problems adjusting to Alexander’s press, and it took the Buccaneers almost the entire first half to adjust. Meanwhile, the Cougars (7-2) jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead.
Allatoona, however, went on a late run in the first quarter to tie the game at 9-all, but Alexander got hot again early in the second and embarked on another run to take a 22-12 lead.
The Buccaneers trailed at the half, but they were still very much in it. Daniel Fowler, who led with 21 points, came through with a dunk just before the buzzer to put Allatoona within striking distance at 25-22.
“It could have gone either way,” Hood said. “With Alexander, you have to go on runs with the style they play.”
Allatoona got within two points several times in the third quarter, but for a while, the Cougars made timely shots to preserve their advantage.
That was until the final minute of the quarter, when Rodney Brown hit a jumper to give Allatoona its only lead of the period at 30-29. But the lead was quickly taken away when Alexander’s Lemarcus nailed a 3-pointer.
From the fourth quarter on, Allatoona never led again. The Buccaneers did get within one at 41-40 on a jump shot by David Tshamala, but Alexander quickly countered with a 3-pointer by Gerran Brooks.
Alexander maintained a four-point lead until Allatoona was forced to foul. The Buccaneers were able to score quick layups in between Alexander’s perfect free-throw shooting and cut the lead to as close as four, but that was as close as they would get.
North Clayton 51, Allatoona 50: The Lady Buccaneers had a double-digit second-quarter lead and appeared to be in control before slipping away in the semifinal game of the Lake City Classic.
Instead, North Clayton (7-6) will play River Ridge tonight for the championship, and Allatoona (4-5) will face Chestatee in the consolation championship.
The Lady Eagles rallied in the second half and tied the game in the fourth quarter.
North Clayton scored back-to-back buckets to take a four-point lead inside the 3-minute mark, and Allatoona trailed up until the final minute before Alyssa Dobson hit what could have been the game-winning jump shot to put the Lady Buccaneers ahead 50-49 with 5 seconds left.
But North Clayton won on its final drive when Kenyatta Hardin hit a layup in traffic with a second left.