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EA boys lose 3 close ones

By By Lori Dann
Managing Editor
The Escambia Academy boys saw a pair of opportunities for wins slip away in the closing seconds, then lost another game after holding a large first-half lead.
As a result, what could have been a 3-0 week on the road turned into an 0-3 week and dropped the Cougars' record to 8-10.
EA opened the week at Faith on Tuesday, taking an early 12-10 lead. But Faith outscored the Cougars 20-13 in the second period to go up 30-25 at the half, and they maintained that five-point edge through the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, EA mounted a late run, closing to within a single bucket in the final seconds. The Cougars had the ball for a final shot but turned it over, resulting in a 54-52 Faith win.
Josh Lilly turned in a strong game for the Cougars with 29 points. Justin Beasley followed with seven, while Mark Hall and Justin Shirley had six each and Ben Hardy added four.
The next game at Wilcox Academy on Friday ended similarly. This time, EA fell behind immediately, trailing 20-11 at the end of the first period and 34-27 at halftime. The Cougars continued to close the gap in the second half, pulling within three at 42-39 at the end of the third period.
After Daniel Alaniz hit four three-pointers in the fourth quarter, the Cougars were down by just two points again in the final minute. But once again a turnover proved to be the difference as Wilcox captured a 62-58 victory.
Beasley posted a double-double in the loss, pulling down a team-high 15 rebounds while scoring 10 points. Alaniz was the only other Cougar in double figures with a team-high 12 points.
Rounding out the EA scoring were Shirley with nine points and four steals; Lilly with eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals; Hall with eight points and four assists; and Hardy with three points.
On Saturday, EA appeared poised to halt the losing skid at Central Christian. The Cougars took a commanding 22-8 lead in the first period behind seven points from Lilly, six from Beasley and five from Shirley. They held a 34-24 lead at the half.
But the second half was a much different story. Central Christian exploded for 32 points in the period to turn a 10-point deficit into a five-point lead, 56-51. They went on to post a 74-67 victory.
There were a couple of bright spots in the loss, namely the play of Beasley, who had another big game with 22 points and 18 rebounds.
Lilly followed Beasley in the scoring column with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and Shirley added 11 points, six rebounds and three steals. Also scoring were Hall with eight points and five rebounds, Alaniz with six points and Hardy with two.
The loss was damaging because it was against another 1A team, but it was not an area game. EA is still 3-0 in area play and in good shape to make it to the postseason.
The Cougars will travel to Grove Hill on Friday.
(I>Published Jan. 12, 2000