Alaniz wins it at buzzer for Cougars
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
It was the most thrilling finish of the season for the Cougars as senior Daniel Alaniz sunk a three-pointer with only two seconds left in the game to help lift EA to a one-point victory over Dixie Academy on Saturday.
The Cougars had led throughout the game, but ran into trouble in the fourth period when they went completely cold. In the first four minutes of the period, Dixie Academy had erased an eight point deficit to take the lead.
EA jumped all over Dixie early on as they took a 17-4 lead after one period. Dixie created more offense in the second period, but the Cougars still maintained a 34-22 lead at the half. After three periods, EA's lead was down to eight points, 50-42.
But, EA couldn't get a shot to drop through the first four minutes of the final period. Dixie took advantage and, at one point, had taken a six point lead. As EA began to get back on track, the clock was ticking away. With two seconds left, the Cougars had fought back and were down 63-61. With that, they went to one of the two seniors on the team and Alaniz hit the tray to give EA the dramatic win, 64-63.
Leading scorers in the game were senior Justin Shirley with 22, 15 of which came from three-point range. Alaniz finished with 16 and his game-winning tray was only part of his heroics down the stretch as he came away with 12 points in the final period. While the seniors had a big game so did one of the young guys as freshman Robert Hardy finished with six points, six rebounds and a spark on defense.
Head coach Chad Pruett said Alaniz has been a huge player for the Cougars all season.
A lot was on the line last Friday night as the Cougars traveled to South Montgomery Academy. The school that won earned the right to host the area tournament.
But, the Cougars fell behind early and were never able to catch up as they fell, 66-53.
SMA jumped on top 19-8 in the first period and maintained their 11-point lead through the second half, 27-16. EA could never break through against SMA as they led the game 43-30 after three periods.
Leading scorers for the Cougars were Josh Davis and Justin Shirley with 14 and Daniel Alaniz finished with ten.
The Cougars finish the regular season with an overall record of 12-13.
They were 3-3 in the area which tied them with Crenshaw Christian Academy – their first foe in the area tournament on Thursday. The winner will move on to the area championship game on Friday night. The loser of the game will be booted from the playoffs.
The tournament will be hosted by South Montgomery Academy. The Cougars will play at 4:30 p.m.