Lady Eagles soar, boys crash at LSA
While the Fort Dale Boys were struggling through their bracket, the Fort Dale Lady Eagles found themselves in a battle for third place.
Before they could advance to the tournament's final, the Lady Eagles had to cage a band of Warriors from the home-standing Lee-Scott Academy, which they did.
Fort Dale defeated Lee-Scott 46-30 and moved into the final against Escambia Academy. These two teams squared off earlier in December with the Lady Cougars coming out on top.
But, in tournament times, the rules and players' attitudes change. The intensity of the rematch between the defending AA state champions and the defending AAA state champions lived up to the billing. The Lady Eagles and the Lady Cougars stayed deadlocked until right at the last when Laura Skipper pulled up and hit a jumper in the lane to give the Fort Dale Lady Eagles a one-point advantage.
"This was a big win for the girls," said Reggie Mantooth, coach of the Fort Dale Eagles. "They lost to Escambia earlier in the year and then to beat them by one point in the championship game was big. Laura Skipper was the MVP in the girls game, hit a short jumper in the lane to win the game for us."
The Lady Eagles knocked off the Lady Cougars 48-47 to claim the tournament crown.
Skipper finished the night with 17 points along with Maryanne Hancock.
The Fort Dale Eagles were playing in their third tournament of the season and the final one of 2004 at Lee-Scott Academy in Opelika and although the location was the different, one team was constant.
The Eagles were in the same tournament as the Faith Academy Rams, the only squad so far on Fort Dale's schedule that has beaten them in every meeting.
But, in this bracket, the two teams were not destined to meet as the Rams swept their way into the finals and the Eagles dwindled.
Fort Dale drew the first round bye and watched as Lee-Scott nursed a one-point lead to a final of 45-44.
The Warriors, who were heavily favored to defeat the Wildcats, opened the game as if it would be a blowout, with a 13-4 run.
In the second half, the Warriors war paint fell off and the Wildcats were presented with the opportunity to send their opponents to the consolation bracket. But, with :30 left on the clock, the Wildcat shooter couldn't knock the shot down, securing the Lee-Scott victory.
That win pushed the home-standing Warriors into a second round match-up with the Fort Dale Eagles.
The Eagles, who were given the opportunity to rest and see their opponents play first-hand, fell in overtime to the Warriors, 57-50. Chuck Barrett finished with 10 points and David Moore had 13 in the overtime loss.
For the Eagles, they were sent to the consolation bracket where they had to face a fired up squad of Wildcats.
"The Boys lost two games in the tournament. They lost in overtime to Lee-Scott and then in double OT against Glenwood," said Mantooth. "We really played well against Glenwood. It was a close tight game and we were in the lead for most of the game, but they tied it up in the end. Hopefully our guys were able to learn something from playing two tight, close games like that and the next time we are in a situation like that they'll know what to do."
Fort Dale dropped the double overtime thriller by the tally of 57-52. Adam Moore was the leading scorer for the Eagles with 17 points.
For the Eagles, Barrett and Adam Moore were the standout players during the tournament.
Now that the tournament's are behind the Eagles, attention is turned to their opponents for the week. Greenville will travel to Lowndesboro Tuesday for a game against the Lowndes Academy Rebels. Right now the Lowndes
varsity Rebels are a dismal 2-7. But, there is reasoning behind their struggles thus far into the season.
"We have six players on the varsity squad" said Matt Marshall, coach of the Rebels. "That lack of depth is what has hurt us in the fourth quarter."
The varsity covers three grades, 10-12. Despite the Reb's 2-7 record, five of their seven losses have been by less than five points. That also includes two overtime losses. Lowndes Academy lost an overtime game to AAA Hooper Academy and then a triple-overtime thriller to Glenwood School.
"That's what has happened to us, we get into the game, late into the game and we start sucking wind," said Marshall.
For the varsity Eagles, Tuesday night will be an opportunity to snap their current losing skid.
Lowndes will be a big game for us," said Mantooth. "It's always been a rivalry."
The girls game should be an interesting match-up between the Lady Eagles and the Lady Rebs.
Lowndes will enter into tonight's game with the services of their points leader from a year ago.
"Michelle Sims practiced one time with us this year and had bulging disks in her back. We are going to play her tonight, but we don't know how she'll react," said Marshall. "She's practically been injured all season and Tuesday will be the first time in a month and a half that she's done anything."
But, the 4-5 Lady Rebels are also led by youth.
"We have Jordan Insinga, an eighth grader starting at point guard for us and Chelcie Kilpatrick, a ninth grader leading us in scoring."
LA is 4-5 on the season. Their four wins have come against A opponents while four of their losses have come from AAA Hooper and Glenwood.
They also dropped a decision to AA Abbeville. The Fort Dale Eagles will play twice more before the week ends. They will also jump headfirst into regional play with a Friday night homestand against Hooper Academy and then a road trip to Mobile for a meeting with the Cottage Hill Warriors.
"It will be good to be at home Friday. It will give a chance to get Hooper in there and pack out the gym," said Mantooth.
"I don't think there is a clear-cut favorite in either one. I think all four boys teams are real competitive teams, same things on the girls' side. I do think it will be a very competitive area."
The Rebels only have one game remaining this week and that's a road trip to Calvary on Thursday.