Eagles take Area Championship with win over Hooper Academy
After getting a 54-41 win over Pike Liberal in what Fort Dale head coach Reggie Mantooth called a &uot;walk-through effort,&uot; the Eagles were able to rebound from a slow start against Hooper in the championship game to take a 55-48 win over the Colts.
The Eagles (24-2) couldn't seem to find the bottom of the basket in the first half against the Colts and trailed 22-16 at the break before going on a 20-4 run in the third quarter behind the strong board work of senior David Johnson, who pulled down 12 rebounds to go with his 10 points.
Johnson and the rest of the Eagles had to fill a void left by Andrew Hollis, who went down with a broken ankle prior to the tournament.
&uot;Being a senior he was looking forward to the last couple of games at home and he really played well,&uot; said Mantooth. &uot;We were able to get the ball inside to him a little bit more.&uot;
Hooper pulled to within five with 28 seconds remaining and cut the lead to three with 24 second remaining but Justin Pierce, who was one for 11 on the night, hit a layup and two free throws to ice the championship for the Eagles.
&uot;They just wore us down,&uot; said Hooper head coach Darrell Self. &uot;They play real good defense and hit their free throws. That was the difference.&uot;
Ty Langston, who racked up 16 points against Hooper, was named to the All Area Team along with Johnson and Brett Paulk and was also named the tournament MVP. Langston, who runs point for the Eagles, said the cold shooting was on the minds of his teammates at halftime.
&uot;Nothing would fall,&uot; said Langston about the first half. &uot;Coach told us to have confidence in the shooting and it would eventually fall.&uot;
The Eagles now advance to the final eight and will face Lee Scott Saturday at Huntingdon in Montgomery. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m. and will match Mantooth against Steve Kilcrease, who coached Fort Dale's junior varsity before moving to the Warriors.
&uot;I think they know a lot about us,&uot; said Mantooth about Lee Scott. &uot;He (Kilcrease) coached a lot of our guys. I think they'll play us man-to-man and we're going to work on that this week and make sure we're ready to play.&uot;