Patriots kick off area play with win over Ft. Dale
Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 7, 2016
It may have been a dogfight, but the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots edged out a 61-57 win over archrival Fort Dale Academy on Wednesday.
The Patriots (1-0, 7-5) struggled out of the gate and fell behind by as many as 12 points in the opening half before battling back for the win.
“It was a very hard fought game,” said head coach Alan Ponder. “Anytime you go to Fort Dale, they have a great basketball tradition and atmosphere. You can always count on it being a loud crowd.”
With about five minutes remaining in the opening half and the Patriots trailing by 12 points, the boys from Pike Lib mounted a comeback. Down three and under 10 seconds remaining in the half, senior Marquese Christian drained a half court shot at the buzzer, tying up the score at halftime.
“I think that was a big turning point for us,” Ponder said. “I think it gave us some momentum heading into the second half. I was very proud of our kids when we got behind 12 to be able to fight back.”
In the second half both teams battled back and forth. The lead never mushroomed much over four points at any time and according to Ponder it seemed like every time the Patriots scored a big basket, Fort Dale was right there to answer.
“It was a very fun game to watch,” Ponder said. “For us we just happened to make a few more shots in the fourth quarter.”
The Patriots went a couple weeks between ball games and even though at times they seemed rusty, Ponder and the Patriots won’t use that as an excuse.
“While we weren’t playing games, we practiced a lot during the break,” Ponder said. “I knew it was going to take a few minutes to knock off the rust, but I don’t think it played too much of a factor honestly.”
The win over rival Fort Dale was a big accomplishment for Ponder and the Patriots, but the fact they started area play 1-0 was more important.
“It was huge for us,” Ponder said. “Now everything counts. We wanted to go in and get started early on a positive note. It’s a very difficult place for us to play. For us to go in there and pull out a win is huge because it was there and it was an area game.”
Hunter Jones led the Patriots with 19 points on the night. Christian and Dacoda McConnell followed with 11.
The Patriots host South Montgomery Christian Academy on Thursday. Tip off is scheduled for approximately 7:30 p.m.