Varsity boys survive nail-biter with Cougars

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The varsity boys Fort Dale Eagles set a high bar in their season opener with a thrilling 68-61 overtime win over the visiting Escambia Academy Cougars.

The game began the much way regulation ended between the Eagles and the Cougars. Despite an early lead built by Escambia’s athletic guards—who made a number of difficult, well-contested shots—an ice-cold 3 pointer from Tripp Richardson ended the first quarter in a dead heat at 14-14.

The second quarter belonged entirely to the Eagles, and more specifically to Fort Dale’s Luke Taylor. Taylor led a relentless assault on the basket alongside his teammates, forcing Escambia into early foul trouble.

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Free throws ballooned the Eagles’ early momentum into a 6 point lead, and then 8, and eventually double digits.  Those factors, coupled with a stagnated Cougar offense and the Eagles’ entry into the double bonus at the free throw line, paved the way to a 14-point halftime lead.

The tide turned in the paint through the second half as the Eagles watched their sizeable lead evaporate nearly as quickly as it was built. 

With redoubled efforts on both offensive and defensive rebounds, the Cougars chipped away at their deficit with a steady stream of offense and clutch 3 pointers.

A handful of missed Fort Dale free throws left the door open for Escambia to cut the lead to 5 points with 2 minutes remaining in the game, and then to a single point with 30 seconds left in regulation.

Though an Escambia floater tied the game, Taylor quickly responded in kind by driving past a pair of defenders, preying on their hesitance to foul, for an easy bucket and a 2-point FDA lead with only 2 seconds left.

But the Cougars rallied for a near-miraculous full-court inbound pass and layup to tie the game once again in the blink of an eye, sending the game to overtime.

Despite the Cougars’ momentum heading into overtime, Fort Dale’s defense buckled down significantly, allowing only a single Escambia Academy point as the Eagles reclaimed their lead once and for all.

Taylor led the Eagles as the team’s top shooter with 16 points, followed by Bryan Folds with 9 points from beyond the arc. Davis Gaston and Tripp Richardson rounded out the top scorers with 6 points and 5 points respectively.

The Eagles traveled to Sparta Academy Tuesday, though results were not available at press time.

Fort Dale will be back in action at home Monday, Nov. 27, as the team faces Lowndes Academy.