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Patriots knock off Fort Dale

The Pike Patriots defeated rival Fort Dale 56-43 in the opening round of the Region 1 Tournament on Thursday night in Greenville.

The Patriots will play round two this evening against Hooper beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The win for the Patriots guarantees the Patriots in the Elite 8 tournament. The rest of the region tournament will be used for seeding in the Elite 8.

“It’s very exciting,” said head coach Allen Ponder. “The great thing about this team is I don’t think they are satisfied. We are moving on to the Elite 8, but I don’t think that is good enough. We want to give our self the best opportunity to move on in the Elite 8. The best opportunity for us to do that is to have a high seed going into that tournament. We are going to work our tales off the rest of the tournament.”

The Eagles came out with a lot of intensity, but the Patriots were able to match it on their way to the win.

“Fort Dale came out with a lot of intensity,” Ponder said. “I feel like we matched their energy early. I feel like we came out with a lot of enthusiasm and that probably hurt us a little bit early. We missed some easy shots. It was a close up until the fourth quarter. We expected this to be a close ball game. Fort Dale played an outstanding game and we were fortunate to come out with a win tonight.”

Despite the early energy, both teams struggled to get points on the board in the opening quarter. There were a combined five points scored in the opening quarter. The Patriots rode into the second quarter leading 3-2.

The offenses picked up the pace in the second quarter. The Patriots received two 3-pointers from Cody Hollis for six of his 8 second-quarter points. The Patriots went into halftime holding a 21-15 lead.

The Eagles cut into the Patriots lead in the third quarter when they outscored Pike 21-18 sending the game into the fourth quarter with the Patriots holding a 39-36 lead.

Free throws in the fourth quarter helped the Patriots secure the win. The Patriots were 10-10 down the stretch and finished the game 16-19 at the charity stripe.

“For the first time this year the difference was free throws,” Allen said. “They kept it close the entire game, but we knew when it came down to the end of the game that they were going to to have to foul and we would have to go to the free throw line and knock them down. We did a great job of that tonight.”

Javon Christian led the way for the Patriots by scoring 21 points. Ethan Green finished with 14 while Cody Hollis had 8.