Fort Dale falls again to Faith in AAA semis

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

MONTGOMERY - Everything that Fort Dale girls basketball coach Reggie Mantooth didn't want to happen did Friday afternoon.

Mantooth wanted his team to try to slow down Faith Academy's best player, Christian Shelter, but couldn't.

Shelter poured in a game-high 26 points to lead the Lady Rams to the Alabama Independent School Association Class AAA final berth with a 64-42 semifinal victory over the Lady Eagles to snap their 17-game winning streak at the Delchamps Center at Huntingdon College.

&#8220We got behind early in the first period and really couldn't get into a flow, much less we couldn't stop their two best players,” Mantooth said of Gerica Johnson and Shelter, who combined for 46 points.

This marked the fourth time in a year that Faith has come away with a victory.

Faith won the AAA championship last year by beating Fort Dale by almost 40 points here at Huntingdon College. Then the Lady Rams (26-1) knocked off the Lady Eagles (24-4) in Fort Dale's Thanksgiving Classic and then again in Faith's own holiday classic before Friday's thumping.

&#8220Yea I know it's hard to beat a team three times in one season, but this team has worked so hard to get to the state finals this season,” Faith Academy coach Woodie Head said. &#8220When you play that many times you get better each time. I think they and we have done that over time.”

Faith Academy will face area foe Mobile Christian for the AAA title at 11 a.m. today. Mobile Christian advanced to the title game by defeating Glenwood, 53-41.

The Lady Rams jumped out to a quick lead in the opening period before Fort Dale could battle its way back into the game. Faith jumped out to a 12-4 lead before the Lady Eagles managed to solve Faith's full-court press and come away with a few easy buckets of their own with their own press.

Fort Dale drew within two points of Faith late in the first, but Shelter quickly extended the Lady Rams' lead by knocking down a key 3-pointer to give her team a 20-14 lead after the first stanza.

As the game went along, Faith's press continued to bother Fort Dale, forcing a number of turnovers that were quickly converted into points on the other end of the floor.

Faith then built a double-digit lead by intermission that was never threatened for the remainder of the game.

&#8220It was hard to defend them to stay in the game,” Mantooth said. &#8220And they shot the ball really well.”

Shelter, who is being recruited by Louisiana Tech and New Mexico, used her quickness inside and out. She was able to beat Fort Dale's defenders off the dribble most of the afternoon, while also being able to step out and knock down some key 3-pointers for the Rams.

Meanwhile, Johnson quietly poured in 20 points for the Rams. While the Lady Eagles were keying on Shelter, Johnson would step in to clean up the glass on most missed field goal attempts.

Wibbi Lloyd also had 10 for Faith, which extended its lead to 51-29 by the end of the third period before cruising to the title game.

Jennifer Pouncey led Fort Dale with 14 points, while Frances Watts chipped in nine.