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Defense leads the way in Alcona girls blowout win over Tawas

Courtesy Photo/Ben Murphy Alcona's Kelsey Hansen works her way to the basket during Monday's blowout win over Tawas.

LINCOLN–When the Alcona girls basketball team played at Tawas roughly two weeks ago, the Lady Tigers let the Lady Braves stay close for much of the first half.

There were no such complications Monday, as host Alcona scored the first 14 points of the game and never looked back, picking up a convincing 41-11 non-conference win.

“That was a focus of ours tonight, to not let up and not let a team come back and for us to keep playing hard no matter what,” Feldhiser said. “Sometimes I think that is difficult to do, but our kids did a real good job of that. Everybody got to play a lot so all-in-all it was a real good game tonight.”

Another point of emphasis for Feldhiser was his squad’s defensive play. Considering Alcona (5-1 overall) held Tawas (0-7) to just five points until a six-point spurt in the final three minutes of the game got the Braves to double digits, it was mission accomplished there as well.

“We wanted to focus on defense tonight, wanted to make sure we did the little things,” he said. “We worked on the little things and fundamentally I think our defense was real good tonight.”

Courtesy Photo/Ben Murphy Rachel Layton looks to get a shot off over a Tawas defender.

Alcona showed its dominance early, as a running jumper by Kelsey Hansen gave the Tigers a 9-0 lead just minutes into the contest. Hansen would have her hands in on the next play as well, as she jumped in front of a long Tawas pass for a steal. She then lobbed the ball down to Lily Bilbey near the basket. Bilbey not only finished off the play, she drew enough contact for the foul and converted the and-one play for a 12-0 lead.

The run continued as Rachel Layton got a close-range shot to roll kindly off the rim and in, and though Tawas split a pair of free throws on the other end, the Tigers closed off the quarter with a fast break basket when Caroline Forsythe sent a pass down the court for a streaking Carmen Dellar who sent the ball in for a 16-1 lead after one.

Karen Sharboneau kicked off the second quarter with a three pointer to extend that gap to 19-1 and another and-one play, this time by Hansen made it 22-3.

A Tawas basket brought the score to 22-5 midway through the frame and though the Alcona offense slowed down the rest of the half, it wasn’t without its highlights.

With the Braves in possession of the ball and looking for a shot, Hannah Tanner swatted a pass back down the court. Tanner raced to reach the ball before it went out of bounds, then finished off the play uncontested as she sprinted for an easy lay-up at the other end.

Bilbey closed out the half with her own shot near the basket, making it 26-5 at the break.

“We didn’t hit many outside shots, but we got the ball inside when we needed to,” Feldhiser said. “I would like to see us get some more three pointers at some point, but that will come. That kind of comes and goes but we could use more of those from time to time.”

Alcona held Tawas scoreless in the third quarter, while it started the frame with a short runner by Forsythe and capped it off with a 16-footer by Tanner, bringing the score to 37-5 entering the fourth.

Bilbey hit for a pair of lay-ups early in the final frame to give Alcona its biggest lead of the night at 41-5, and the score would remain that way, until Tawas broke its offensive drought with about three minutes to play.

To go along with Bilbey’s 15 points, Sharboneau added six, Liz Henderson and Hansen scored five points apiece, Tanner finished with four and with two each were Dellar, Forsythe and Layton.

The win comes before a key stretch of four straight North Star League Big Dipper contests. Alcona heads to Mio on Friday and has road games at Whittemore-Prescott on Monday, at Rogers City on Wednesday, March 3 and caps its off on Friday, March 5 with the biggest one of them all, when the Tigers look to avenge their lone loss of the season against Oscoda.

“We are in a good spot right now, we only have one loss so far and are looking forward to having three good practices, since we don’t have a game until Friday. You don’t get that many opportunities for that this year. We are going to continue to focus on defense for the most part. Next week we have three big games, so we are going to take advantage of the time in practice to really work on defense, fundamentals and conditioning.”

Alcona’s junior varsity team also picked up a win over Tawas, 32-14. Mia Schoper, Emma Travis and Sierra West had eight points apiece.

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