Escambia County basketball drops home opener

Published 11:14am Monday, November 19, 2012

After plowing their way into the Alabama High School Athletic Association Final Four in 2011, the Escambia County High School Blue Devils are reeling after a tough home opening loss to the Monroe County High School Tigers Friday night in Atmore.

After blowing out Vigor High School 73-57 on the road in their season opener, the Blue Devils played under the weight of high expectations Friday night, and came close to delivering.

After two periods, the game hung in limbo with only three points separating the Tigers from the Devils, but Monroe would ultimately prove to have more stamina as the pulled out the 61-53 upset.

First year head coach Earlando Courtney said he knows his team has a lot to work on, but has not lost faith in the talent his squad possesses.

“We got it to five and it ended up 61-53,” Courtney said. “They pulled away a little bit at the end. We missed six or seven lay ups.”

Courtney said he understands the mechanics of the loss, but knows his team – himself included – can learn from the mistakes.

“The cohesiveness is fine,” Courtney said. “A lot of the mistakes we’re making are coaching. New coaching. New system. A change in mind set. It’s going to take some time. I told them, at the end of the day, my name is the one on the marquee. It’s not your fault. Every time we lose it’s my fault. I’m going to continue to get better and the team is going to continue to get better.”

With only five seniors on this year’s roster, Courtney said youth on the squad is a challenge, adding it is also a bright sign of things to come.

“I think I have a lot of guys that this is there first year in the line up,” Courtney said. “They’ve spent a lot of time in the shadows.”

Those emerging stars will get a chance to show their mettle in soon-to-come games, Courtney said.

“We have a tournament on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with Bayside, Randoph and Clarke County,” he said. “Clarke County is probably one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the area. They play good, sound ball.”

Courtney said his team is only a few steps away from realizing the potential that will allow them to defeat teams like Clarke County.

“We just have to play better,” he said. “We have to play more fundamentally sound. Things like boxing out, getting loose balls, not turning your back to the ball on defense. Athletically, we can match up with anybody. We just have to match up better. When you can match up athletically, now it’s about who plays the smartest and that’s where we’re losing a step.”

ECHS will hit the court again Monday for their first tournament/classic of the year on the road at Bayside. Tip-off time is yet to be determined.

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