From that point on, the Lady Hawks never allowed Alcovy to get within 22 points and won 84-45 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.
Now, Hillgrove (24-4) will make the long trip to Valdosta to face Lowndes in Monday’s second round. The Vikettes had a rout of their own in a first-round win against Newnan.
Coming into Friday’s game, Hillgrove was wanting to sustain the momentum it had established in the Region 4AAAAAA championship game against McEachern.
Though the Lady Hawks lost by 12 to their archrival, they had one of their better starts of the season and led by nine after the first quarter.
“Against McEachern, we came out with high intensity, and (Friday night), we wanted to come out with a winning mindset,” said Mackenzie Engram, who led Hillgrove with 18 points.
The Lady Hawks had a significant size advantage against Alcovy (10-18), the No. 3 seed of Region 2AAAAAA, and created mismatches inside the paint.
Tene Thompson made a layup just seconds after the opening tip, and the points kept coming for Hillgrove. Engram followed with a pair of jumpers, Thompson converted a layup off a turnover and Zarriah Pierce hit two free throws to put Hillgrove ahead by double digits in the first 3 minutes.
The Lady Hawks started out 7-of-9 from the field and led 17-0 at the 3:31 mark.
The lead swelled to 22-0 on an uncontested layup by Pierce before Alcovy’s Quantasia Perry hit a layup with 1:12 left to play.
That launched a 6-0 run for the Lady Tigers to end the first quarter, but Hillgrove put a stop to it at the start of the second. Ja’lyn Reese hit a 3 to open the second quarter and added two more routine layups off steals to secure a 31-8 lead.
Alcovy scored more often in the second quarter, but it never threatened, and the first half ended with a three-point play by Pierce and a layup by Engram.
“We wanted to use our size to our advantage and push the ball inside,” Hillgrove coach Susan Milam said. “We also wanted to carry the momentum from one game to the next.”
With Hillgrove subbing liberally in the second half, the lead grew to 30 early in the third quarter, after Engram’s layup off a steal. Alcovy tried to keep fighting and cut the gap to 25, but when the Lady Hawks started doing a better job blocking out, the lead was back in the thirties.
Savannah Harris banked a 3-pointer from the left wing in the final minute of the third to stretch Hillgrove’s lead to 69-36 and induce a shortened fourth quarter.
Perry led Alcovy with 11 points.