By Phil Albert
Special to The Daily
Tuesday night's Forest Park and Dutchtown girls basketball game provided fans the opportunity to see two of the Southern Crescent's top girls basketball talents and left fans wanting more.
Forest Park's Ashlee Cole and Dutchtown's Brittney Strickland didn't disappoint as the showdown produced a barrage of points and intense play, but visiting Dutchtown pulled away for a 58-42 victory Tuesday night at Forest Park.
Strickland hit 7-of-16 shots from the floor and an astounding 18-of-20 from the foul line to finish with 32 points for the winning Lady Bulldogs (11-6), while Cole hit for 24 points despite hitting only 5-of-25 shots from the floor and 12-of-14 from the line.
Strickland played defense against Cole and noted that stopping the talented Forest Park guard was the key.
"Our main focus was on her," Strickland said. "We wanted to play off her because she drives to the bucket a lot. But then she started making shots from the outside, so we had to play her closer. It's tough."
But Strickland also received bonus help from her sister, Alyssa. Together, the dynamic duo combined for 47 points, more than Forest Park's total output.
Dutchtown finished 17-of-42 from the floor and 23-of-33 from the foul line.
Dutchtown coach Angela Williams has seen a marked improvement from the free throw line for the Lady Bulldogs.
"We have done a lot of running for each missed free throw," the coach said, "and the girls really worked hard tonight. We came out aggressive overall and took everything to the basket. We went to the line a lot and didn't miss many. We've concentrated on our shooting percentages."
Cole had a poor shooting night, missing all six shots from the field in the first quarter and making just two in the second quarter. Still, she went to the line for 12 attempts, making 10. She made two 3-point field goals in the fourth quarter. Most of her shots were off balanced while driving the lane.
Cole became Dutchtown's primary focus since Forest Park was missing three players for disciplinary reasons due to a fight last Friday night against Griffin.
The Lady Panthers hit 11-of-46 from the floor and 17-of-30 from the line.
Lajoi Battle came off the bench to contribute 12 points for the Lady Panthers. Keyonna Allen had 12 rebounds, while Battle and Cabrisha Anderson had eight apiece.
Cole scored six straight points to give the host Lady Panthers a 17-13 lead midway into the second quarter of the tightly-played contest, and later, two free throws by Cole gave Forest Park its last lead at 20-19.
Dutchtown closed the first half on a 10-0 run to lead 29-20, and following a bucket by Allen to open the third quarter, Dutchtown sealed the win with a 15-0 run to lead 44-22. Forest Park could come no closer than 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Forest Park 67, Dutchtown 53: A three-point barrage gave the host Panthers a quick 15-0 lead, and they coasted to the region victory.
Lamont Jackson hit three 3-point field goals during the stretch in helping the Panthers build a 24-9 lead after the first quarter. The lead reached 16 points in the second quarter before Dutchtown answered with a late run to close the gap to nine. But a 5-0 spurt gave the host Panthers a 38-23 halftime lead.
The lead reached as many as 18 points in the third quarter, but the visiting and determined Bulldogs would again close the gap to seven points in the final quarter, 53-46, after a rebound bucket by Michael Small. But Forest Park outscored Dutchtown, 8-2, in the final two minutes to seal the win.
Brandon McCarden led a very balanced Forest Park attack with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He had 10 points in the key fourth-quarter stretch. Jackson added 18 points and Jordan Enadeghe had 10 points and 12 rebounds. He only had two points in the second half but had nine boards. Maurice Simpson and Malikki Priester scored eight each.
Coming off the bench, Derrick Brock and Alphonzo Reid led Dutchtown with 15 and 14 points respectively. Reid hit for seven points in the final quarter.
Forest Park hit 22-of-45 from the floor and 19-of-34 from the line.
Dutchtown hit 20-of-56 from the field and 10-of-16 from the charity stripe.