The FPD boys had just about as strong of a finish to the regular season as they could have hoped for Friday night.
The Vikings held strong in the face of some physical inside play by Tattnall Square, making four 3-pointers against a zone defense in the second half to pull away for a 46-34 victory.
With the win, FPD (13-6, 8-2 GHSA Region 7A-1A) secured the No. 2 seed from its sub-region for next week’s Region 7-1A Tournament. Wilkinson County, which beat Mount de Sales on Friday, will be the No. 1 seed by virtue of its regular-season sweep of FPD.
Tattnall, which led Region 7A-1A for most of the season and swept Wilkinson County, finishes the regular season with back-to-back losses and slips to the No. 3 seed. The Trojans are 15-7, 7-3 in sub-region play.
Six who mattered
Titus Moore, Henry Middlebrooks and C.J. Harris: The FPD trio each hit 3-pointers in the third quarter as part of a 15-11 run that began to tilt the game the Vikings’ way. Moore’s 3-pointer was his only basket, while Middlebrooks and Harris each finished with a team-high 10 points.
Maurice Gordon and Wesley Wilson: The FPD players had their share of points (Wilson with eight, Gordon with four), but the seven rebounds and two blocks each recorded loomed quite large.
Calvin Slaughter: The Tattnall senior scored 12 points and had eight rebounds. Only one other Tattnall player scored more than three points.
Armaun Smith’s 3-pointer 15 seconds into the fourth quarter, combined with two free throws from Gordon and a three-point play from Caleb Kelly a little more than two minutes into the fourth, gave FPD an 8-3 run to start the final quarter and put the Vikings up 10. Tattnall made just two field goals the entire fourth quarter.
Zone buster: FPD made seven 3-pointers, several of them against a zone defense. The percentage wasn’t super high, 7-of-18, but Tattnall made just 3-of-11 of its 3-point attempts.
Ball control: The ability to score from the perimeter put FPD in fewer situations where it could turn over the basketball. The Vikings committed just six turnovers, three coming on steals. Tattnall kept the ball fairly safe, as well, turning it over eight times (six on steals).
Lack of scoring depth: Slaughter and Jimmy Marshall (seven points) were the only Tattnall players to score more than one bucket. The rest of the team went 5-of-17 from the field and 3-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Also Friday night
FPD wrapped up the No. 2 seed and a tie for first place in the sub-region with a 29-21 victory over Tattnall. Kate Patterson and Emma Lako each scored seven points for the Vikings (16-5, 8-2), while Abby Rouse paced Tattnall (14-9, 5-5) with eight points. Stratford clinched the No. 1 seed from its sub-region with a 50-34 victory at Twiggs County, a win that gives Stratford hosting rights for the entire Region 7-1A girls tournament and the closing rounds of the Region 7-1A boys tournament. Tattnall will be the No. 4 seed from its sub-region.
They said it
FPD head coach Michael Walton on the win: “It was all about playing with energy and playing with effort and playing with emotion. Tattnall is very physical basketball team, and our guys knew that going into it. It’s always a battle when you play those guys because we’re so evenly matched. We mirror each other so much.”
Middlebrooks on ball control: “At the beginning of the season, we kept control of the basketball pretty well, but the past couple of games turnovers were being made. It just makes it hard for us to win if we turn the ball over.”
Middlebrooks on having to open the region tournament at Aquinas: “We just have to stay focused, even though it’s so far away.”
Region 7A-1A teams await the completion of region play in Region 7B-1A. Because of weather postponements, play in Region 7B-1A will not be completed until Monday evening. Region tournament play is tentatively scheduled to begin Tuesday, with the boys opening at Aquinas and the girls starting at Stratford. Later rounds of both tournaments will be played at Stratford.