Lady Eagles hand Edgewood first loss of the season

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2006

ELMORE - From a distance the matchup between two of the top 10 teams in the Alabama Independent School Association would seem intriguing.

By the final horn, a game that was thought to be a nip-and-tuck battle turned into a game of sheer domination by Fort Dale Academy as its girls basketball team handed the Edgewood Lady Wildcats their first loss of the season in convincing style in a 58-24 rout.

Fort Dale, now ranked No. 3 in the AISA, dominated Edgewood from the opening tap until the final seconds ticked off the clock.

&#8220We were ready to play, and I think this is the best I've seen this team play all year,” Lady Eagles coach Reggie Mantooth said after Tuesday's game. &#8220By far this was the best game we've played all year.”

Maryanne Hancock led Fort Dale (16-3) with 20 points, while Frances Watts chipped in 19.

The two forwards not only were able to pound the ball in the paint, but were also making the nets sing from beyond the 3-point arc. Fort Dale finished the game converting eight 3-pointers.

Meanwhile its defense had Edgewood (15-1) frustrated throughout the game.

&#8220Their man-to-man defense got into our heads, and we couldn't handle them,” said Wildcats coach Michael Norris. &#8220We had a sense of panic out there and couldn't come back.”

Fort Dale jumped out to a 15-7 lead after the opening period thanks to Watts scoring 13 of her 15 first-half points during the stanza.

After each made bucket by the Lady Eagles, they jumped into a 3/4 court zone press that Edgewood could not handle and turned the ball over. The Lady Wildcats finished the half with 15 turnovers and in a deep hole trailing Fort Dale 27-10 at intermission.

Not only were turnovers an Achilles heel for Edgewood, but so were free throws. The Lady Wildcats stepped to the free throw line 10 times in the first half and converted just one. Edgewood finished the night converting 3 of 18 attempts.

While nothing seemed to go right for the Lady Wildcats, it seemed like everything was going right for Fort Dale.

The Lady Eagles continued to have a hot hand from the field and added to their lead in the third period. By the end of the stanza, Fort Dale was heading down the home stretch with a comfortable 42-17 lead.

&#8220Since Day 1, we have always talked about getting better as the year goes along; I think we are doing that and this win certainly helps our confidence,” Mantooth said.

The Lady Eagles kept scorching the nets from the field in the fourth period, while Edgewood struggled to get three field goals in the period to settle for a 34-points loss.