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Fort Dale Boys to play in championship

What started out as a close game quickly became a second-half blowout in Fort Dale’s favor as the Eagles defeated Macon-East 65-40 yesterday to earn a spot in the state championship game.

Fort Dale struggled early, especially on the boards.

The Eagles got out-rebounded 21-16 in the first half, but while FDA struggled to grab rebounds, they made up for it from the free throw line, going 10-13.

“They killed us on the offensive boards early, but we made some defensive changes and played hard,” said head coach William Johnson.

The game was knotted at 10 after a period and it still remained close with the Eagles ahead 24-23 at halftime.

The second half was like a different game.

Fort Dale opened the third quarter with two three-pointers, a free throw and a putback off a missed free throw to force MEMA to take a timeout.

The break did nothing to cool the Eagles off, and FDA kept firing.

When the dust cleared, Fort Dale out-scored Macon-East 32-6 in the third quarter to lead 56-29.

From there, the Eagles put the game on cruise control.

Fort Dale’s defense was stingy all night, holding Macon-East to 1-26 from behind the three-point line, though several of those shots came in desperation in the fourth quarter.

“Our offense led to good defense and it all just kind of snowballed from there,” Johnson said. “Shanks [Simmons], Luke [Hutcheson] and Stuart [Mathews] all had a great game for us.”

Simmons had 16 points to lead the Eagles, while Hutcheson added 13.

Dustin Till, Mathews and Todd Burkett each scored eight points.

On the boards, Till pulled down 11 and Hutcheson added nine.

The win earned Fort Dale a berth in the AAA Championship game against Tuscaloosa Academy, who defeated Lee-Scott 47-41 in the second semi-final game of the day.

The two teams have played once this season with Tuscaloosa winning.

The championship game is set for 1 p.m. today at Huntingdon College.