Fowler scored 18 of the Buccaneers’ 26 third-quarter points. Allatoona (29-1) led 23-18 at halftime and 31-26 with 5:08 left in the third following a putback from Greg King.
Fowler’s three-point play ignited an 18-1 run for the Buccaneers, who took a 22-point lead heading into the final quarter. Fowler scored the first seven points during the spurt and totaled 14 of the 18 points during the run.
The Buccaneers were able to take advantage of the Lions’ defense, finding players wide open in the lane for some easy baskets while also limiting M.L. King on the defensive end by challenging its field goal attempts. The Lions had a difficult time stopping the Buccaneers’ dribble penetration and passes off to available players.
“I thought we played very well defensively in stretches, but especially in the third quarter,” Allatoona coach Markus Hood said. “We talk a lot offensively about moving without the ball, and we did a great job of that and got a lot of easy looks at the basket.
“We wanted to space them out and slice through the lane. It was fundamental press and dish and we were very successful with it.”
Allatoona moved on to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time since 2012, when it was in Class AAA. The Buccaneers will host Stephenson on Thursday.
Allatoona built its biggest lead at 52-29 following a layup from Bradley Brevet with 6:45 remaining in the contest.
The Lions’ fourth-quarter pressure led to costly turnovers and helped them get back into the game. They embarked on a 21-9 run as Allatoona, which was outscored 31-21 in the final period, also didn’t make its free throws early in the period.
“The third-quarter run got us the big lead and we played to hang onto the ball for a while,” Hood said. “M.L. King is a good team. We had to fend them off late. We needed to make our free throws down the stretch and, fortunately, we started to hit those when it mattered.”
Greg King, who finished with a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds for M.L. King, made a jumper with 1:45 left to cut the deficit to 61-50.
Allatoona, which was 16-of-28 from the free-throw line overall, went 9-of-14 over the final 1:37 to maintain its double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Fowler had nine fourth-quarter points.
“We came out and played some grown men and didn’t back down,” Hood said. “M.L. King is used to a physical game. They’re used to playing that way in their region. Our guys took a ton of heat (Tuesday) and they hung in there to get this win. I’m really proud of their effort.”
Rodney Brown had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds for Allatoona. Ephraim Tshimanga added 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals, while Brevet finished with nine points.
Jordan Martin had 11 points for M.L. King. Paul Jackson contributed nine points, eight assists and five rebounds.