The glass slipper shattered on the Cinderella playoffs for the Alpharetta Raiders Thursday night, as the Savannah Blue Jackets won the semifinal AAAAA boys basketball game.
The two teams traveled to the Gwinnett Arena for the 5:30 p.m. game, with the Raiders bringing in their 19-12 record. The Blue Jackets haven't tasted quite so much defeat, sporting a 29-2 record before the tipoff.
Throughout the game, players seemed to struggle with free throws. And while a few threes fell through the basket, others bounced off the rim or fell short.
The first period looked like Savannah was starting to make a big run, but Alpharetta bounced back. Carlos Burse ended it with a slam, and his dunk cut the lead to 1-point. The Blue Jackets held an 18-17 lead as the second period began.
For a time in the second period, Alpharetta had the run of the floor. Leading by as much as 4, they seemed ready to take control. But the Blue Jackets had too much talent to stay down, and the second period ended with Savannah again on top, 26-23.
Taking a break was no help to the Raiders, as shots just didn't seem to fall, whether threes, jump shots or free throws. The Blue Jackets, on the other hand, made the most of second and even third chances, extending their lead to 10 points by the end of the third period. Savannah seemed to own the glass, controlling the boards most of the game.
The 44-34 lead might have seemed too much, but this was Alpharetta, whose entire playoff run seemed improbable. By 3:39 left in the game, 7 of those 10 points in the lead were gone, and the Raiders were back in the game, but down 41-44.
For the last several minutes of the game, the two teams traded foul shots once Alpharetta lost some of the ground it gained on the scoreboard. The Raiders needed to foul to save time on the clock. And for the Blue Jackets, weak free throws by the Raiders might have made fouling seem like a good idea, too.
Despite a swarming, diving defense, which turned full court near the end, Alpharetta couldn't close in. By the time the clock ran out, Savannah had won, 51-46.
Savannah will play the winner of the Milton-Harrison semifinal game, which had just begun when this story was first posted.