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FDA picks up wins heading into playoffs

Fighting for a better seed in the region tournament, the Fort Dale girls were pushed to the limit against Taylor Road but came away with a 43-40 win last Friday.

The Eagles held a commanding 16-8 lead after a quarter, but the Tigers fought back and cut the lead to 23-20 at halftime.

The Eagles actually trailed as the game wound down, but a shot by Abbey Martin with just over a minute left gave FDA a 41-40 lead and a bucket by Lori Fail iced the game.

Murphy Middleton led the Eagles with 10 points, while Fail had nine.

Seven of Fail’s points came in the fourth quarter.

On the boards, Martin grabbed 15 rebounds.

“This was a huge win for us,” said head coach William Johnson. “I’m really proud of them. I can’t say enough about how hard they played. The girls never quit.”

The win locked up a third seed for the Eagles in the region.

The boys showed some of the same heart against TRA, fighting back in the third quarter of a game that wasn’t decided until the final horn.

Taylor Road led 34-19 at halftime, but the Eagles made a furious run in the third quarter.

Luke Hutcheson had back-to-back baskets, followed by a pair of free throws from Kendall Gibson to make the score 40-37.

The Tigers managed to hold the Eagles off, but Steven Lee hit a three-pointer with 3:20 to play to cut the lead to 52-49 after TRA had led by as many as nine.

Fort Dale followed that with a huge three from Sanders Hancock to tie the game a minute later.

However, TRA hit their free throws down the stretch and FDA couldn’t hit a last big shot to tie.

“I challenged them at halftime, we played hard in the second half and didn’t let it get away from us,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to commend them on their heart. When we play like that, we’re a pretty good team.”

Hutcheson led the Eagles with 19 points, while Steven Lee had 11.

Against Escambia Academy on Monday night, both teams managed to hold on for tough wins.

A big part of the boys’ win was 23 points from Lee.

“He played very well,” said Johnson. “Hopefully, he’s heating up at the right time. He plays tough defense, and this is the third or fourth game in a row that he’s scored in double digits.”

The FDA girls also held on a 49-41 win.

“It’s good for us to get a win heading into the playoffs,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to play at a high level to win.”

The boys will face off against Pike Liberal Arts on Thursday at 11:30, while the girls will play Hooper on Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Both games will be at Huntingdon College, and both teams need to win to advance.