EA boys edge No. 1 Fort Dale in OT
By By Lori Dann
The Escambia Academy boys basketball team lost its top three scorers off last year's team.
They have no dominant big man.
And they're depending on some younger players at key positions.
Despite those obstacles, the Cougars are showing signs that they will once again be among the teams vying for a state title in February.
The biggest sign came last Tuesday night when EA rallied for a 66-65 overtime victory over top-ranked Fort Dale at home.
It was the Cougars' first win over Fort Dale in three years.
The Cougars took control of the game early, racing out to a 14-4 first quarter lead. But Fort Dale came back to even the game in the second quarter, and from that point on it was a see-saw battle as the two teams traded baskets.
EA got the ball last in regulation and had a shot at winning it then. The Cougars held the ball for the final minute, setting up their last shot. They got the look they wanted, with Josh Lilly firing a jumper just before the buzzer. But the ball bounced off the back of the rim and the two teams went into overtime knotted at 56-56.
In overtime, EA jumped out front and then the game turned into a free throw shooting contest. The Cougars prevailed, hitting six of 10 attempts from the line to go along with one field goal from Lilly.
Lilly finished with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds to go along with four steals. Justin Beasley added 15 points and nine rebounds; Ben Hardy had nine points, four steals and two assists; Justin Shirley and Daniel Alaniz had five points each; and Mark Hall added four points and six rebounds.
The win improved EA's record to 2-1 heading into the Fort Dale Invitational on Saturday.
Published Nov. 28, 1999