Then there were four
Fort Dale Academy made it look easy Friday night as they whipped Glenwood School 60n35 in the Alabama Independent School Association's (AISA) Class AAA state playoffs at Faulkner University.
The topnranked Eagles (25n1) jumped out early on the Gators (10n18) and continued their dominance throughout the duration of the contest.
"We came out early and shot the ball well in the first half," FDA Head Coach Reggie Mantooth said. "Adam Moore hit some big threes for us and Josh Yates also played good early. That really got us going good in the first half."
Senior Point Guard Brett Paulk led the way for Fort Dale with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in less than three quarters of play. Senior Forward Andrew Hollis added 13 points and led the defense with 10 boards also in less than three quarters of play.
Paulk and Hollis have shared the spotlight throughout the second half of the season. Paulk said the two work well together because they have shared a lot of time on the hard court throughout high school.
"Andrew and I have been playing together since the ninth grade and have been through a lot and played a lot of ball together," Paulk said. "We're used to each other's game. When I'm down, he picks me up and if he's down, I pick him up. We work good together and are used to each other."
Both Paulk and Hollis were benched a few minutes into the third quarter. Mantooth said he didn't want to chance one of them getting injured.
"We got a big lead and didn't want to go back with them for fear of injury in a game we thought we could control the rest of with our other guys," Mantooth said.
The Eagles also played well defensively. They followed their shots and picked up a lot of offensive rebounds resulting in easy baskets.
"We were good defensively," Mantooth said. "Hopefully we'll continue to get better. We played a good defensive game and that's what it's going to take to win a state championship."
Yates and Adam Moore finished with eight points each for Fort Dale. Scottie Richardson led Glenwood with eight points.
Fort Dale advances to the AISA Final Four for the third consecutive year and will take on Mobile Christian in the seminfinals at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at Huntington. Mantooth believes defense will be key for the Eagles to win and advance to the championship game.
"I think it's going to take a real good defensive effort on our part, so we're able to get some easy baskets inside which will hopefully open up our outside shooting," Mantooth said.
Although FDA picked up an easy 46n28 win over Mobile in the Faith Tournament earlier this season, Paulk believes the Leopards have improved over the last couple months.
"Mobile Christian has come a long way since the last time we played them," Paulk said. "We've got to concentrate on them right now and not look ahead."
Mantooth agrees with Paulk and believes Mobile will be tougher this time around.
"Mobile has really played well the last part of the year. They have two really good senior guards that we're going to have to stop and contain."
The winner of the Fort Dale/Mobile game will take on the winner of the LeenScott/Tuscaloosa game at
1 p.m. on Saturday