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Eagle girls win at the buzzer

With 2:30 left in Tuesday’s AISA regional basketball game, Abbey Martin stepped up to the line. She took a few dribbles to shake any jitters she had. The ball may have been heavier than usual, as Martin knew that she now held the playoff hopes of Fort Dale between her hands.

“We fought from the time it tipped off till the very end,” said Coach William Johnson. “I challenged my girls to be mentally tough, and stand in the face of adversity.”

The Eagles had remained tough the entire game, leading the score until a few moments earlier. Now, the score was locked at 45-45.

The crowd quieted. As the first shot dropped through the hoop, the Eagles were again out in front. Fans went wild as her second free throw found its mark, putting the Eagles up by 2.

Fort Dale had barely let out a sigh of relief before the Bessemer Rebels had scored another basket.

With 18 seconds remaining, again Martin found responsibility and the ball in her hands.

There was no time to think. She tore down the court, maneuvering through the Rebel defense.

For the second time in the fourth quarter, Martin took the lead back. This time, however, the ball swished through the hoop followed immediately by the final buzzer.

Fort Dale 49-Bessemer 47.

Johnson said they were the underdogs in this game. Bessemer, he said, likes to run and can score points in a hurry.

“We tried to slow it down a little bit and make sure we were in a good set every time,” Johnson said.

The last minute buzzer shot was Martin’s first of her career, she said. She gave credit to her teammates for coming together.

“We had a come to Jesus meeting a few weeks ago where we said we needed to start working harder,” Martin said. “This game we did just that.”

Martin said the hardest part was coming back after the third quarter, where Bessemer managed to bring the score within 5.

Martin racked up 26 points in the regional game.

Fort Dale will continue in the tournament to the Elite Eight. They will tip off against Pike Liberal Friday at 1:00 p.m. at Huntingdon College.