LINCOLN-The Alcona girls basketball team celebrated Senior Night on Monday, giving all its senior players a chance to play in front of a hometown crowd one last time before district play begins next week.
Thankfully, the Tigers gave a good performance in a 76-29 rout against Whittemore-Prescott.
"It was an awesome senior night for us. These girls have been playing together since ABA," Alcona coach Brad Cole said.
Alcona's (16-3) rout was far from assured after a tight first quarter that saw it squeak ahead to a 15-12 lead after Karina Cole hit a three pointer with 7.5 seconds left.
Cole led Alcona with 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five steals.
The Tigers held the lead throughout the first quarter, but was often stymied by the Cardinals' defense. They also seemed to struggle to make shots and gave up too many rebounds.
"Whittemore does a really good job on man-to-man defense and in a lot of cases we like to work against the man-to-man. Playing against a team with solid man-to-man skills really helped us prepare for the districts," Cole said.
Alcona's largest lead of the first quarter came at 2:35, when Maddie Feldhiser hit back-to-back buckets to take a 10-4 lead.
The Cardinals then outscored the Tigers 8-2 over the next minute and a half to tie up the game 12-12. Cole's trey helped keep the game in Alcona's favor, but didn't guarantee smooth sailing in the second quarter.
Any fears of a Whittemore upset were allayed when Alcona held Whittemore to four points in the second quarter to go up 34-17 at the half.
The Tigers gave up only one point in the first four and a half minutes of the second as Kendra Cole and Karina Cole piled on 16 points to take a 30-13 lead.
Kendra Cole had eight points and six rebounds.
The Tigers' defense came alive in the second, as it began rebounding better and creating turnovers. Alcona had 12 steals in the game.
The third quarter opened with a trey from Whittemore's Jessica Erickson 40 seconds in, narrowing Alcona's lead to 34-20.
The Cardinals scored only five more points in the third quarter as Alcona continued to pour on the points and led 58-24 at the end of the period.
Other Alcona players, such as Megan Quick, Alissa Terpstra, Torie Harmon and Samantha Schopfer pitched in buckets to contribute to Alcona's lead.
Quick had 10 points, four assists and four steals while Harmon had eight points.
The Tigers stayed on throughout the fourth quarter, holding Whittemore to four points.
Emily Lange led Whittemore with eight points.
By the time the game was over, all but three of Alcona's seniors had scored except Cassie Carpenter who sat out due to injury.
"Our seniors played really, really well tonight. Its very rare that you have a team with seven seniors going. Some of them don't get a lot of playing time so its really good to see the whole team get to be part of the game," Cole said.
Alcona travels to Oscoda on Thursday in its last game of the regular season.
ALCONA (76): C. Cottrill 2 2-2 6; J. Erickson 1 0-0 3; C. Raines 1 0-0 2; E. Lange 4 0-0 8; H. Hostetler 2 1-2 5; E. Rogels 2 1-2 5.
WHITTEMORE (29): K. Cole 11 1-1 26; M. Quick 4 2-2 10; T. Harmon 4 0-2 8; K. Cole 4 0-0 8; S. Schopfer 3 0-0 6; L. Manning 2 2-2 6; M. Feldhiser 2 0-0 4; S. Pierce 2 0-0 4; A. Terpstra 2 0-0 4.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.