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Eagles advance to finals of Turkey Day Tourney

While most people are sitting around recovering from their Thanksgiving dinner the night before, the basketball team at Fort Dale was working theirs off in a different.

Both the men's and women's basketball teams were in action Friday when Fort Dale played host to basketball squad from Faith Academy, Monroe Academy and Pike Liberal Arts School in Fort Dale's annual Thanksgiving Tournament.

Faith and Monroe got the tourney started with both Faith squads winning and moving into the championship games.

Fort Dale took the court Friday afternoon in a twin bill against Pike Liberal Arts School.

The women got the first shot at the Patriots in what proved to be a very dominating performance.

Coming into the game, the Lady Pats had taken the floor earlier in the week against Dixie Academy and lost. The Lady Rebels were victorious 34-29.

Against the Lady Eagles, the Lady Pats knew they needed to score more than 29.

As a young team for the second game of the season, the defending state champions are not who you want on your schedule.

The difference in the two squads was obvious after the tip. Fort Dale jumped out to a 13-0 lead and forced Lady Patriot coach Shaunna West to call a time out and calm her troops down.

"The fact that we are young and I think our girls were a little intimidated in the first half had a lot to do with the score," West said. "We always like playing Fort Dale. They beat us by one point at team camp this summer so our girls were looking for a way to redeem themselves."

The effort was in vain as Fort Dale came out and expanded their lead to 19-0.

"It was good to get everybody to play in our girls game," said Reggie Mantooth, coach of the Fort Dale Lady Eagles. "We played hard early and got a big lead and had a chance to play everybody in the game so that was good for us."

Frances Watts, Laura Skipper and Wesley Atkins led the scoring rally. Pike Lib had their first opportunity at free points when Mimi Williams was fouled and sent to the line for two shots. She missed her first shot but drained her second freebie putting the Lady Patriots on the board, 22-1.

Eden Harris finally scored the first field goal for the Lady Eagles, 22-3.

The second quarter was played as one-sided as the first with Fort Dale extended their lead to 26-5, then after a basket by Pike Lib and a Lady Eagle answer to 30-7.

It was at this point in the game that the Pike Liberal bench was awarded a Technical Foul, putting Laura Beth Jones on the line for two free throws. She sinks both of her shots and extends the Lady Eagle lead to 32-7.

The Fort Dale dominance continued through the remainder of the first half. The Lady Eagles took a 36-8 lead into the locker room at halftime.

"We knew that they didn't have a lot returning from last year," Mantooth said. "We weren't expecting to jump out to a big lead, but we knew that if we went out there and got after it then we'd have a chance to get everybody in the game."

The Lady Eagles expanded their lead to 48-12 at the end of the third quarter and opened the final period by expanding it to 56-12.

West calls another timeout in an attempt to slow the red and blue momentum down.

"This was only our second game of the season," West said. "We are still making small mistakes. But I think we'll be much more equally matched the next time we play them."

The Lady Eagles continued to stretch the lead. With under five minutes left in the game, Mantooth called the dogs off and had all the starters off the floor and let the younger players finish the job. Fort Dale claimed the victory by the tally of 62-25.

Fort Dale was led in scoring by Maryanne Hancock with 20 points.

The win moved the Lady Eagles into the finals against the Faith Lady Rams today at 4 p.m.

Pike Lib lost the game, but they are still in the tournament and will face Monroe Academy in the consolation final today at 1 p.m.

As soon as the horn sounded to signal the end of the girls' game, the Eagles and Patriots were taking the court for the final game of the night.

Although the teams were the same the game was much different.

The two teams were locked in a shootout with Pike Lib taking a one-point lead at 9-8.

But Carson Moseley hit Conyers Poole on a cut under the basket. Poole floated the ball in to give the Eagles a lead they will not relinquish throughout the game.

Fort Dale expanded their lead to 15-9, but Pike Lib fought back with a three to bring the game to within three at 15-12.

"Our boys looked a little lackadaisical, like maybe they didn't have the intensity we had Tuesday night," said Mantooth. "It was a struggle for us, Pike had a really good team. But I think we did enough to win the game."

As time ticked down in the first quarter, both teams stayed neck-in-neck. Pike Lib never allowed the Eagles to inch more than five points ahead.

FDA jumped ahead 20-15. Pike Lib fought to bring the score to 24-20 and went into the half with a 24-23 score.

The second half was as intense as the first.

Pike Lib tied the game at 25-25 and the score stayed that way for the first few minutes of the quarter.

Mason Bass pulls up and sinks a jumper to put the Eagles ahead 27-25. But, the change in score didn't mean a shift in momentum for the Eagles. On a breakaway, Brady Newton went to feed an Eagle, but threw the ball out of bounds forcing Mantooth to call a timeout and calm his squad.

Pike Liberal hung around until the end of the third period and had the score to within two possessions, 32-28.

The Eagles however pulled away at the end by posting a late rally and eventually spreading their lead to nine points at 40-31.

That nine point lead swelled to 11 when David Moore sinks a lay-in to make the score 42-31.

The Patriots went into intentional foul-mode, but the Eagles knocked down free throws and furthered their lead. When the buzzer blew, Fort Dale was on top 46-39.

The win put the Eagles in their first championship game of the season against Faith Academy, a team that Mantooth pointed out as a team to compete with the Eagles this season.

Tip-off for the championship is set for 5:30.

Pike Liberal will be in action today also. They will face Monroe in the consolation, tip for that game is set for 2:30.

Both Eagle squads remain unbeaten. They opened their season with back-to-back games on back-to-back days against Sparta Academy in Evergreen and then at home against Mobile Christian.

The boys made short work of Sparta, 91-37 while the first game bugs were on display for the girls even though they pulled out a 47-38 victory.

The next night, the guys picked up a 47-36 win over Mobile Christian while the girls made short work of their counterparts, 61-40.