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EA starts slow in tourney

By By Lori Dann
Advance Managing Editor
The Escambia Academy Lady Cougars lost their first game in the Sparta Tournament of Champions Monday and may have lost their No. 1 state ranking as well.
Facing No. 3 Faith, the Lady Cougars raced to a 14-9 lead at the end of the first period and a 26-17 halftime advantage. They pushed their advantage to double digits in the second half and were up 35-25 heading into the final period.
However, four consecutive turn-overs late in the game helped Faith make a late run and eventually take the lead with eight seconds left. EA had the ball for a final shot, but it was unsuccessful.
The loss overshadowed another solid effort from senior Jenifer Dykes, who scored 17 points and passed the 1,000-point mark for her career. Dykes also had six rebounds and seven steals in the game.
Also scoring in the loss for EA were Amy Ridgeway, Jennifer Martin and Emily Hardy with six points each, Jessica Gibbs with four, Holly Mack with three and Ashley Helton with two.
EA made just 35 percent of its field goals for the game and was even worse from the free throw line, making just 7 of 21 attempts, or 33 percent.
The Lady Cougars bounced back in their second game of the round robin event Monday, defeating host Sparta 55-38.
Martin led the way with 14 points in the win, followed by Dykes with 10 points and eight rebounds, Gibbs with eight points and Mack with four points and six steals. Other contributors were Ridgeway with six points, Hardy with four, Helton with three and Bethany Hawkins, Heather James and Shelby Moore with two each.
The EA boys also lost their tournament opener, falling to Monroe Academy 48-40 in another close game. Monroe led the entire game, but the Cougars managed to stay within striking distance until late.
EA struggled offensively as leading scorer Josh Lilly was held to just four points. Justin Shirley and Daniel Alaniz were the top scorers with nine points each, followed by Mark Hall with eight, Justin Beasley with six and Ben Hardy with four.
The Cougars dropped to 6-7 with the loss and were scheduled to face No. 3 Faith and Sparta on Tuesday.
The Lady Cougars saw their record go to 12-2 heading into their contest against Monroe Academy Tuesday. EA will get a chance to avenge its loss to Faith next Tuesday on the road.