J.V. Eagles are State Champs
The Eagles soared into Hooper on Saturday, and with a flock of fans in formation behind them, carried out the Championship in their talons.
Under the guidance and direction of Coach Steven Kilcrease, the flight plan was simple: emerge victorious and change that 17-1 record to 20-1.
And fly they did.
In game one of the "elite eight" the Eagles faced the Warriors of Lee-Scott, hailing from Auburn.
In the middle of the first period the J.V. Eagles were in the lead at 12-8. Then at the end of the period, the Warriors were in the lead, with a score of 13-12.
In the second period, the Warriors added 13 more points, against the Eagles' four points, to take a 10-point lead into the locker room, 26-16.
After the break, Fort Dale began to close the gap and at the end of three, the score was 34-27 Lee-Scott.
Going into the fourth period, Fort Dale drew first blood, but four points answered a two-point addition by the Warriors.
When the clock ticked down to 2:29 remaining in the game, the Warriors were ahead, 38-29.
Not willing to give up, the Eagles' defense did not let them score again. The FDA offense lit the afterburners, and scored another five points.
Then, when the Eagles were still down by four points, a foul and a technical sent Brett Paulk to the free throw line.
To the cheer of the fans, Paulk went four for four to tie the score at 38 all, and the clock still showed 1:09 remaining in the game.
Following the technical, Fort Dale had possession of the ball when the Warriors once again fouled Paulk.
This time, Paulk made one of two, to take the lead at 39-38.
Neither team scored again before the final horn sounded, marking victory number one for the Eagles.
Paulk led the scoring for the team with 16 points, followed by Andrew Hollis with eight, Thomas Stabler with six, and Chuck Barrett with five.
Ty Langston led the team with five steals, Paulk led with six rebounds, and Hollis followed close behind with four.
Coming down to the "final four" Fort Dale faced the Monroe Academy Volunteers for the jump shot.
Starting again at a deficit, the Eagles were down, 6-2. But before the first period was through, a basket by Ty Langston and two free throws by Andrew Hollis brought FDA to within one point, at 7-6 when the horn sounded to end the first period.
In the second period, a one-point lead was swapped back and forth between the teams, until a rebound by Paulk followed by Langston's basket put the Eagles in the lead, but when the horn ended the half, the score was tied at 18 all.
Thomas Stabler started off the second half scoring off with a steal and a lay up to take the lead, where they remained until the third quarter ended, when the score was Eagles 22, Volunteers 20.
The awesome defense of Fort Dale kept the Vols back to only one more point in the fourth, however, the Eagles were able to score another 18.
When the game was done, the Eagles prevailed, 40-23.
Langston led Fort Dale's scoring, with 15 points, and he was two for two from the three-point line.
Thomas Stabler followed with eight points, then it was Paulk with seven, Hollis with six, and Daniel Wesley with four.
The leading rebounders were Brett Paulk at seven and Hollis with six.
Paulk, Langston and Wesley each had two steals for a total of six.
In an electrically charged atmosphere, the Eagles advanced to the championship game to face-off with the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights, in what would be another intense battle for the victory.
After a little over two minutes had transpired, the Knights broke the silence with a three-pointer.
Another shot by the Knights, and then the Eagles countered with five points of their own.
Tuscaloosa then stretched the lead out, and the Eagles trailed by three at 11-8 when the first period ended.
Both teams scored 11 points in the second period, and at the halftime break, Tuscaloosa was ahead, 22-19.
The Eagles and the Knights both emerged from the lockers to score five in the third period, making the score after three Tuscaloosa 27, FDA 24.
Daniel Wesley broke put first in the fourth, scoring two points, to narrow the margin to one point.
The Knights drove down the court, but missed the shot, and Wesley was there for the rebound;
with 3:35 remaining in the game, Paulk shot for three and Fort Dale grabbed the lead for the first time in the game, by a score of 29-27.
Hollis came through with another basket, increasing the lead by two, and following a save by Chuck Barrett and an assist by Paulk, Hollis put two more on the board, to make the score 33-27 FDA.
The Knights came back with a three-pointer, and after another point by FT. Dale, the score was 34-30 FDA, with 1:26 remaining in the game.
The rest of the Eagle points came as free throws by Langston, Paulk and Hollis, as Tuscaloosa could only manage one more point.
When the game was over, Fort Dale emerged victorious, with a final score of 42-34.
Hollis led the team in scoring with 16 points. Paulk had 11, Langston had seven, Stabler and Wesley each had three, and Chuck Barrett had two.
Paulk led the team in rebounds with five, followed by Hollis with four, Langston and Wesley each with three, and Stabler with two.
Langston, Barrett and Stabler each had one steal, and Paulk had one block.
Coach Kilcrease ended his second season with Fort Dale holding a combined record of 38 wins and five losses with the J.V. team, who now stand at 20-1, with the State Championship, as they will face the final four games of their season against Meadowview, Hooper, Pike and Greenville.