Tuscaloosa Academy beats Eagles for state title
Class AAA State Title Game Photos
MONTGOMERY – Tuscaloosa Academy outscored Fort Dale 11-3 in the second period and held off the Eagles after halftime to win its second straight Class AAA State Championship 45-34 at Huntingdon College on Saturday.
Hot shooting had allowed Fort Dale (18-9) to claim double-digit victories over both Prattville Christian and Macon-East in the postseason, but the Eagles went a woeful 5-of-20 in the first half against the Knights. After matching Tuscaloosa Academy (22-10) goal-for-goal in the first period, Adam Burton scored six points and the Knights got baskets from both Alston Poellnitz and Robert Nye to break open the game.
The Eagles, however, could manage just a single field goal from guard Stuart Matthews.
“It just wasn’t our day today,” said FDA head coach William Johnson. “We missed a lot of easy shots and didn’t finish the plays, offensively, that we needed to win the ball game.”
Fort Dale spent most of the first half skirting around Knights’ center Robert Nye, who did just enough to alter the Eagles’ shots near the basket. Tuscaloosa outscored Fort Dale 14-4 in the paint and also held a 19-8 advantage in rebounds at halftime.
Nye, standing six-foot-eight, was a big reason for that. Having already played Tuscaloosa once this season, (a 54-43 loss in Greenville), Johnson chose to have his players attack the basket rather then relying on outside shooting.
“We actually tried to go at him (Nye) today and it didn’t work,” said Johnson.
Nye finished with eight rebounds and eight points.
Fort Dale attempted a comeback in the third period. After surrendering a two-point basket to Poellnitz, Luke Hutcheson and Dustin Till combined for back-to-back scores. The two teams then traded goals, a pair by Nye and a pair by both Till and Hutcheson, before Hutcheson’s three-pointer with 1:06 to play in the period cut Tuscaloosa’s lead to 30-24.
The Eagles got even closer as the fourth period opened with Shanks Simmons knocking down a three-pointer. Wesley Burkett’s steal and subsequent foul shot pulled FDA closer, 30-28.
But as in the first half, the Knights strung together a series of baskets. Ashton McLeod’s three-point shot capped off a 10-2 scoring run to seal the win for Tuscaloosa.
Following the game, Johnson went down his bench, thanking the seniors in particular.
“I just told them, ‘I wish we could have got it for them,’” he said. “We had six seniors who came to work everyday. They’d been waiting a long time for this opportunity. They fought so hard to get here. I can’t say how proud I am of this team.”
Hutcheson had nine points to lead Fort Dale. Simmons and Till each had eight.
Hutcheson and Simmons were both named to the Class AAA All-Tournament team.