EA Cougars rout Wilcox in opening round
By By James Crawford
The Escambia Academy Cougars improved to 8-3 with a dominating 63-50 win over visiting Wilcox Academy on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Escambia Academy New Year's Classic Basketball Tournament.
The Cougars took the ball to the basket for two after the tip-off but the Wilcox Wildcats answered immediately. Escambia dropped in three after a steal and followed it up with one from the line but Wilcox regrouped and came back to take the lead with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.
After a failed three point attempt, the Cougars stole the ball back for a second chance to score with just over a minute left but came up empty. A foul by Wilcox adds one point from the line for the Cougars but they give the ball up to a lane violation. After an elbow thrashing battle under the basket, the Cougars drop the ball in for two to close out the first quarter trailing the Wildcats 13-12.
Escambia changed gears in the second quarter and came out fired up with pressure defense that generated a stuff that resulted in a quick steal and three points to overtake Wilcox's lead. The Cougars then exploded offensively, running up the score 29-16 in the second quarter of play and continued to mount a drive into the third and had racked up a 50-32 lead by the start of the fourth quarter with a last-minute lay up.
"I definitely think our pressure defense had a factor in the outcome of the game. Sometimes you don't see the results of the pressure until later in the game and you might give up a few baskets along the way but it can help you get to a point of opening up a eight or ten point run," Cougars head coach Chad Prewett said.
With just two minutes left in the fourth, the Wildcats battled back under the lead of Josh Vick, who drove under the basket and spun around backwards for a behind the back hook shot reminiscent of the Michael Jordan era. But the hard-fought basket wasn't enough to spark a drive as the Cougars regained the ball and remained on top to finish off the Wildcats 58-48, dropping their overall season record to 3-4.
"They have more depth than we do and they handled the ball better tonight," Wildcats head coach Chris Burford said. "We had a lot of turnovers for us but they have a very good ball team."
Jace Beasley finished the night with 18 points for the Cougars while Cole Norton added 11 and David Daniels added 10 points to the overall score. Beasley also topped out the night with nine rebounds.