FPD-Stratford girls basketball games have become grind-it-out battles of will in recent years.
The Eaglettes, however, ended that trend with a 52-36 win over their rival in the semifinals of the GISA Region 2-AAA tournament Tuesday at Tattnall Square.
Stratford picked up its largest win over FPD in more than four years and in doing so became the first team to break 50 points in the series in that same span. The Eaglettes beat the Lady Vikings by 32 points on Jan. 31, 2006.
“It was an unusual game,” said Stratford sophomore Morgan Long, who scored a game-high 22 points. “To beat FPD, we have to play together, and we haven’t come out prepared at the start of the game much (this season).”
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That certainly wasn’t a problem on Tuesday, as Stratford held FPD scoreless for nearly six minutes to start the game and to 11 points in the first half. The Eaglettes maintained a steady lead during the next quarter, eventually pulling away to a double-digit advantage on a 3-pointer by Long and a layup by Sloan Sibley.
“We shot the ball decent and executed what we needed to do,” Stratford head coach Ed Smith said. “Misses are never a problem. We encourage them to take the open shots, and we didn’t pass up too many of them (on Tuesday).”
The Eaglettes led by 14 at the end of the third quarter following two powerful moves to the basket by the Long. On the second one, Long forced up a shot that grazed the front of the rim and eased over into the basket. She had a sheepish grin following the make and shrugged her shoulders.
“I really didn’t think that one was going in,” Long said.
FPD showed some fight in the fourth quarter by drawing back close every time Stratford managed to look like it would run away with the game.
Luci Allen’s 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the game cut Stratford’s lead to nine points. Later, a 3-pointer by Fran Johnson brought the Lady Vikings to within 10 points with 1:18 left in the game.
“I’m proud of the way we fought in the second half, but you can’t play one half,” FPD head coach Charley Chase said. “We only played one half.”
Stratford’s free-throw shooting kept FPD at bay. The Eaglettes made 13 free throws in the final 3:23, but they also missed 10.