Fourth quarter free throws help Alcona get past Wolverines

News Photo by James Andersen Alcona’s Hunter Clark (32) and Au Gres’ Isaac Beardsley fight for a rebound during the first half of a boys basketball game on Monday at Alcona High School.

LINCOLN–Free throws were a pain in the neck for the Alcona boys basketball team in its season opener on Saturday.

On Monday, they turned out to be just what the Tigers needed.

Alcona went 8-of-12 from the charity stripe and pushed past Au Gres in the fourth quarter, topping the Wolverines 62-56 at Alcona High School.

In their season opener Saturday against Millington at Little Caesars Arena, the Tigers (1-1) shot just 6-for-21 from the free throw line and ultimately lost on a last-second shot. Alcona flipped the script on Monday as they knocked down shots when they needed to and outscored the Wolverines 17-14 in the fourth quarter.

“I was pleasantly surprised. The kids came out and executed the game plan,” Alcona coach Ryan Bilbey said. “We shot 8-for-12 (from the free throw line); that’s the kind of stuff that wins ball games.”

Antivius Mikazes paced Alcona with 16 points, Damion Stewart added 12 and Pierce Bilbey had 10 points. Aidan Wrobel had six points and 12 rebounds, Dominic Howe had nine points and Josh Kilbourn had eight, including three key fourth quarter free throws.

The contest was tight from beginning to end with Alcona holding just a five-point lead (28-23) at halftime and a three-point lead (45-42) after three quarters. The two sides when back and forth in the first half, but Alcona got hot late in the second quarter to pull away from the Wolverines a little bit. The Tigers showed their offensive versatility during that stretch as Wrobel spun in the paint for a bucket off the backboard, Kilbourn drove the baseline for a floater, Mikazes scored on a putback and Stewart took an outlet pass and scored, capping an eight-point run that gave the Tigers a 25-18 lead.

Alcona did the same thing in the fourth quarter, getting a clutch three-pointer from Bilbey, four points from Mikazes and Stewart, another bucket from Wrobel and three free throws from Kilbourn to put the Wolverines away.

“In the second and fourth quarters, we hit some clutch shots. We had some spurts of shooting,” Bilbey said. “We’re still not where we need to be, but we played well and got back into a routine.”

Alcona’s JV team opened the night with a 46-23 win over Au Gres. Gavin Walker led Alcona with 12 points and Joel Steiner added 10.

On Saturday, Alcona fell behind 29-21 at halftime and rallied to pull to within one, 44-43 after three quarters. Stewart and Wrobel each led Alcona with 11 points. Howe added 10 points and Mikazes had eight.

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BOX SCORE: Field goals made/Free throws made/Free throws attempted/Total Points

ALCONA (62): D. Howe 3 0-0 9; Bilbey 3 1-2 10; A. Wrobel 3 0-0 6; J. Kilbourn 2 3-4 8; H. Clark 0 1-2 1; D. Stewart 4 2-4 12; A. Mikazes 6 4-6 16.