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FDA basketball roster features fresh, familiar faces

With football season in the rearview mirror, Fort Dale Academy’s athletes are shifting gears to prepare for the ensuing season of hoops.

Reggie Mantooth, longtime head basketball coach of Fort Dale Academy, said that this year’s crop of talent is a blend of familiar and fresh faces make for a promising 2015-16 season.

Though the Eagles lost some notable ballers to the graduating 2014 class—most notably Ryan Burkett—Mantooth said that the team should still have more than enough firepower with the return of Taylor Thomas.

“He was our leading scorer last year, and we are expecting big things from him this year,” Mantooth said.

“Taylor has the ability to score, but he should also really help us with rebounding and setting up other people to score as well.”

Taylor is hardly the only key component to the Eagles’ success, however.

“Austin Vickery is also returning at the point guard position,” Mantooth added.

“We have a good group of upcoming sophomores, but they will need to continue working hard. And they should improve as they gain experience.”

Experience is the rare commodity, and the relatively young FDA team is trying to accrue as much as they can with less than two weeks left before the start of the regular season.

Due to the number of fresh faces, Mantooth said that a certain focus is being placed on the basics.

“Our boys started practice this week, and with a lot of inexperience, it has been a week of fundamentals and learning,” Mantooth said.

Fortunately, the young team is offset by the postseason experience that several returning members from last year’s team gained. Though the playoff  push at Huntingdon ended a little earlier than the Eagles would’ve hoped, the experience itself proved invaluable to building a better program.

“Any time you can advance to the state playoffs, it should benefit the guys that had a chance to experience the atmosphere,” Mantooth said.

“We would like to build off of last year.”

In addition to experience, chemistry is also a key ingredient to success.  Fortunately, it’s already been established among the senior members of this year’s team, but it’ll take time to work the newcomers into the mix.

“Our older players have a good chemistry, but it will take some time to develop the overall team chemistry,” Mantooth said.

“We hope to continue to improve throughout the year.”

The Eagles will travel to Sparta Academy Nov. 20 for the first game of the regular season.  Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.