PLAS clips Fort Dale

Published 11:06 pm Thursday, February 5, 2009

MONTGOMERY — It was not as large of a scale, but the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots knocked the Fort Dale Eagles out of the postseason once again Thursday afternoon.

The basketball Patriots took FDA down 44-34 in the first round of the AISA Class 3A, Region 1 tournament at Huntingdon College in Montgomery just more than two months after Pike defeated the Eagles for a football state title.

The win clinched the Patriots a spot in the state playoffs and eliminated Fort Dale from state contention.

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“I thought we came out pretty good,” PLAS head coach Mike Barbaree said. “Our guys just played a great defensive game.”

The Patriots (12-11) and Eagles traded momentum swings in a game that had four lead changes in the first half, but the Patriots grabbed a 28-25 lead with 2:50 remaining in the third quarter and never relinquished the lead the rest of the game.

Pike Liberal had some problems at the free throw line, but Jared Henderson was perfect from the charity stripe. The Patriots were 14-40 from the line, but Henderson was 6-for-6, all in the second half, from the stripe.

“Jared hitting those free throws was huge for us,” Barbaree said. “We built an 11-point lead and his free throws were a big part of that. He played huge for us and he opened the game with a big three for us as well.”

The other Patriots were 2-for-19 from the free throw line in the second half.

The Eagles scored the first points of the game to take a 2-0 lead, but Henderson snatched the lead for Pike Liberal with a three-pointer nearly one minute into the game.

The two squads battled it out through the quarter and Pike held an 11-8 advantage at the end of the quarter.

The Eagles came out on fire in the second quarter and took a 21-17 lead by hitting back-to-back three-pointers and outscoring the Patriots 13-6 in the opening five minutes of the quarter. FDA led 23-21 at the half.

The teams battled some more in the third quarter and Pike tied the score and grabbed the lead with about three minutes to play in the third. They led 32-27 at the end of the quarter and they pushed the lead to as many as 14 points in the final quarter for the win.

Justin McLaughlin led the Patriot attack with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Henderson added 11 points. Ross Hixon had seven points, five rebounds and three steals. Douglas Hawkins chipped in five points, three rebounds, four steals and two assists. Nick McLaughlin had two points and 10 rebounds.

The No. 4 seed Patriots face No. 1 seed Lee-Scott today at 4:30 p.m. in Montgomery.

Click here for a photo gallery of Thursday’s action