Alcona tops Tawas in double OT to win third straight crown

LINCOLN-Jared Steiner saved his biggest shot of the game for last.

After several big moments during a Class C district final on Friday, Steiner hit a shot 1:13 into double overtime to give the Alcona boys basketball team the lead for good as the Tigers went on to defeat Tawas 52-39 on its home hardwood to win its third consecutive district title.

Steiner hit a shot with 51 seconds left in the first overtime to knot the game at 39, but missed a short jumper as time expired. He also missed a pair of free throws with seven seconds left in regulation.

None of that mattered once the second overtime started. Steiner’s first basket gave Alcona the lead and the Tigers were off and running from there, outscoring the Braves 12-0 in the extra period.

The win moves Alcona to its third straight regional semifinal where the Tigers will face Maple City Glen Lake on Tuesday at Traverse City West.

It was a bit of sweet redemption for the Tigers, who watched Tawas win the Huron Shores Conference title on their floor a few weeks ago.

“They’re a tough team to play. They’re a very good team, they’re well coached and they knew coming in here it would be a dogfight,” Steiner said. “The better team won tonight and we played with guts and grit.”

Steiner had 13 points for Alcona (15-4) and Trenton LaVergne led the Tigers with 17 points.

The second half of regulation was largely a defensive battle after Tawas led 25-24 at the half. Tawas took a 34-31 lead at the end of the third quarter thanks to a lay-in from Jake Salwey.

LaVergne scored to open the fourth quarter to pull Alcona’s to within one, but the Tigers went scoreless for almost the next six minutes while the Braves (12-9) only scored four points in that stretch. Aaron Ritchie knotted the game at 37 after he sank two free throws with 26 seconds left. A last-second attempt by Chaz Coffin missed and sent the game to the first overtime.

Zach Boensch hit two free throws with 1:43 left in the first overtime, but Steiner answered with a floater to keep the game going, sending most of the fans in attendance into a tizzy.

“I could pass out a little bit honestly (right now), but our crowd was great tonight. They got us fired up in double overtime,” Steiner said. “We made some big plays down the stretch, the whole team was great and this is a big team win.”

Boensch, Coffin and Salwey each had eight points for Tawas.

The previous two contests between the two teams have been tight affairs and this time around was no exception. The two sides battled back and forth in the first quarter and Alcona led 15-12 at the end of the period after a basket from LaVergne.

Alcona led by as many as five two different times in the second quarter, but the Braves always seemed to have answer and eventually took a 25-24 lead at the half after a 7-2 scoring run in the last two and a half minutes.

The Tigers also got key contributions from several bench players in the game, especially during the overtime periods when a couple of starters battled foul trouble. Garrette Norling and Jason Steiner were two bench players who hit their free throws to help extend Alcona’s lead.

“It was a big team win, everybody stepped up when they needed to and it’s a big team win for us,” Steiner said.

ALCONA (52): Cammack 2 0-2 4; Jar. Steiner 6 1-5 13; LaVergne 7 2-2 17; Jas. Steiner 1 2-4 4; Forsythe 1 0-0 2; Ritchie 1 2-2 4; Jamieson 1 1-2 3; Norling 0 3-5 3; Hampton 1 0-0 2.

TAWAS (39): Boensch 3 2-2 8; Coffin 3 1-3 8; Decker 3 0-2 7; Cloutier 1 2-2 4; Salwey 3 2-5 8; Carroll 2 0-1 4.