ECHS girls win regional opener
By By Lori Dann
Advance Managing Editor
The Escambia County Lady Blue Devils moved a step closer to history Thursday with their 45-37 win over Wilcox Central in the Southwest Regionals in Mobile.
At press time Saturday, ECHS was playing B.C. Rain for the right to advance to the Final Four in Birmingham. The Lady Blue Devils, who are in the midst of their best season ever, have never made it past the regional finals, where they lost last year to Demopolis.
ECHS certainly didn't play its best basketball Thursday. In fact, the Lady Blue Devils had to rely on their defense to pull out the victory on a day when their offense was virtually non-existent.
ECHS shot just 25 percent (16-for-63) for the game from the field, including 2-for-17 from behind the three-point line. To make matters worse, they also made just 33 percent (11-for-33) of their free throws and committed an uncharacteristically high 22 turnovers.
That was the bad news. The good news was that ECHS forced 39 turnovers with its fullcourt press, despite limiting the press in an attempt to stay out of foul trouble.
It certainly wasn't an easy win. In fact, after ECHS led by as many as five points in the third quarter, Wilcox came back to take a 33-30 lead early in the fourth on back-to-back three-pointers by Carla Jones.
Fortunately for the Lady Blue Devils, Latonya Knott saved her best play of the game for the final quarter, hitting two crucial three-pointers and a layup in the closing minutes of the game to give the lead back to ECHS for good.
Knott finished with 16 points to lead the ECHS offense, and she also led the team in steals with 10 and had eight rebounds.
Fenetrias Lewis added 12 points and three steals for the Lady Blue Devils, who also got 11 points , four steals, three assists and a game-high 20 rebounds from Aleshia Stallworth.
ECHS' leading scorer, Trenessa Rice, who last year tied a regional record with 13 field goals against Demopolis, was held to just six points. However, she did have seven rebounds and five steals. Center Tamekia Crimbley got into foul trouble and failed to score in the contest. She also had just two rebounds.
Both teams struggled offensively from the start. Though ECHS took an early 3-0 lead in the opening minute of the game, the Lady Blue Devils went almost five minutes before they scored again and held a 7-3 lead at the end of the first period.
ECHS went to its press in the second period and quickly upped its advantage to 11-3. Then they experienced another lull, failing to score for another four minutes as Wilcox closed the gap to two points.
The Lady Blue Devils took a 19-15 lead into the locker room at the half thanks to the strong rebounding of Stallworth, who had several putbacks to help ECHS maintain its lead.
White said the Lady Blue Devils would have to play better Saturday against B.C. Rain. Although ECHS has beaten the Lady Raiders earlier this season, Rain is a solid team.
B.C. Rain advanced to the regional finals with a 50-38 win over defending regional champion Demopolis. The Lady Raiders came into Saturday's regional finals with a 25-6 record.
ECHS improved to 25-7 with Thursday's win while Wilcox finished its season at 20-7.