FPD has encountered many new and fresh opponents during its inaugural season in the GHSA.
The Vikings met a friendly face when they hosted George Walton on Tuesday, although the Bulldogs probably didn’t seem as friendly after they swept the Vikings.
The George Walton girls made some crucial late free throws to pull away with a 39-33 win in the opener. The George Walton boys took a 20-point third quarter lead, but they had to hang on for a 61-55 win.
“I’m really proud of the way our guys fought back,” FPD head boys coach Michael Brooker said. “We didn’t play very well for three quarters, but the guys kept fighting. That’s something to build on.”
The Lady Vikings (7-5) fought through a significant size advantage to hang close to the Bulldogs throughout the game.
Neither team led by more than five over the first 22 minutes of the game. Even that deficit was quickly erased with a six-point FPD run to close the first half.
But the Bulldogs started to pull away in the second half using its strong post play. They led by eight in the waning seconds of the third quarter a huge rebounding advantage that created second- and third-chance baskets.
George Walton outrebounded FPD 29-18 in the second half, with 17 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end of the floor.
“That was the difference right there,” Chase said. “We couldn’t handle their size. They just controlled the boards.”
George Walton scored on three second-chance possessions at the start of the fourth quarter and stretched its lead to nine points.
FPD again pulled close as George Walton struggled from the free-throw line. The Lady Vikings got an important 3-pointer from Luci Allen with 2:10 to play to cut the lead to four points. A basket by Davis with 30 seconds to play made the score 35-33.
But George Walton, which had made just 1-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter up to that point, sank four straight foul shots to seal the win.
The FPD boys also battled back into their game, rebounding from a 24-point deficit to get to within 10 points two different times in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. A steal and eventual jumper by Sam Joyce and then a layup at the buzzer by Jared Foxworth got the Vikings to within six points but they ran out of time to complete a possible comeback.
Brooks Stroud led the Vikings with 12 points while Foxworth and James Watwood both added 11. The Vikings scored 26 points in the fourth quarter alone after managing 29 through three quarters.
“We dug ourselves in too big of a hole early, and you can’t do that and hope to dig out,” Brooker said.
The FPD boys face arguably their biggest test in school history when they travel to powerhouse Whitefield Academy on Friday.
“They have the reputation they have for a reason,” Brooker said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a good couple days of practice, and we go up there and see what happens. It will be a big challenge.”