Fort Dale faces improved Lee-Scott

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fort Dale Academy girls basketball coach Reggie Mantooth has preached to his players the obstacles of beating a team three times in one season.

Those obstacles seemed to be merely bumps in the road for the Lady Eagles after cruising to the Class AAA West Area 4 championship by easily knocking off Hooper and Monroe Academy for the third time this season.

Fort Dale (23-3) faces that same task today when the second-ranked Lady Eagles face a much improved Lee-Scott (13-12) squad in the regional round of the Alabama Independent School Association state playoffs at Huntingdon College.

&#8220I think they have improved through the year, so we'll have to be ready to play (today),” Mantooth said.

Fort Dale has stretched its winning streak to 16 games with its last loss coming in the first round of the Faith Academy Holiday Tournament to the top-ranked Lady Rams.

Since then the Lady Eagles have rolled to easy wins including a 40-point drubbing of Lee-Scott in the championship round of the Lady Warriors' holiday tournament.

Since then, Lee-Scott has improved dramatically, said Lady Warriors coach Roddie Beck.

&#8220It's been a gread turnaround for us,” he said. &#8220We are playing so much better as a team. I think everyone understand what our role is as a team, and we've improved on the defensive end.”

Two weeks ago, Fort Dale could not match their easy win over Lee-Scott back in December. The Lady Eagles managed to hold off Beck's squad, 39-30.

&#8220We know going in it will be a tough game,” Beck said. &#8220They have one of the best players in the state in Frances Watts. It's hard to just try to stop Frances. You know you have to slow her down, but she has good folks surrounding her.”

Indeed Watts is a key cog in Mantooth's Fort Dale machine. And she will play an even greater role for the remainder of Fort Dale's playoff run as the team's point guard.

Senior point guard Lacy Norrell will not be with the Lady Eagles for the remainder of the playoffs because of her obligation with the state Jr. Miss Pageant that kicks off this week.

&#8220We will certainly miss Lacy because she brings so much experience and tenacity as a defender on the floor,” Mantooth said.

So Watts will move to the point guard spot, and Casey Hicks will move to the small forward position.

But this will not be anything new for Watts. Mantooth has worked Watts into her role since December. And he's surprised that he hasn't seen opposing teams try to stop Watts with gimmick defenses like a box and one or even a triangle and two.

Beck said that he's considered that type of defense, but he said it wouldn't work against a player like Watts.

&#8220She doesn't only score, she distributes the ball well,” Beck said. &#8220She's a point guard that everyone wishes they had. You can't focus just on her. If you go box in one, she can beat that person off the dribble. You can try stuff like that, but you can't do it for the game.”