Cougars, Lady Cougars get ready for State Final Four showdowns in Thursday
By By Paul Keane
It's rare, having two teams competing for a state championship at the same time, but Escambia Academy's boys and girls varsity basketball teams are poised and ready for the challenge.
The Cougars (23-4) face Pickens Academy (22-5) Thursday in a 3:30 p.m. contest in the AISA 2A State Final Four semifinals. The Lady Cougars (23-4) take on Sumter Academy (18-7) in a 5 p.m. semifinal contest. Both games will be played at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
The winner of the boys game will take on the winner of the Evangel Christian-Sumter Academy semifinal game in a 7:30 p.m. championship game Friday. The winner of the girls contest will take on the winner of the Springwood Academy-Pickens Academy semifinal game in a 5:30 p.m. title tilt on Friday.
EA head coach Chad Prewett said he's excited about the chance to come away with two state titles this week.
"What an opportunity this is for our teams and our players," Prewett said. "It's always our goal to win a state title, and it's something I write down at the start of each season. Now, to be here and have this chance is exciting."
Prewett has taken both teams to the State Final Four one other time, in 2000. That year, the boys lost in the semifinals while the girls brought home the state championship, as they did again last year at the 1A level.
This year, the competition is a level higher, though, and Prewett said the challenges will be strong.
"We've scouted both of these teams off and on throughout the year," he said. "With Pickens Academy, they are up in Carrollton, so it's been hard to get a lot of information on them. We do know they are not very big, but they are quick and shoot the 'three' very well. Sumter Academy is also a good team that can give our girls team some challenges."
Prewett said he plans to stick to the same game plan that has brought the Cougars and Lady Cougars area and regional championships this year.
"We've got to do the little things right," he said. "In big games, sometimes you get nervous and overwhelmed and you forget to do those little things that win ballgames for you. We've got to take care of those things and rebound well, especially for the boys team."
Prewett said the mood of his teams are opposite of one another, with the girls taking things in stride and the boys showing a little bit more excitement.
"Everyone is excited," he said, "but the girls are hiding it better. In fact, Monday was like an every day, normal practice for the girls. They just came in and got to work.
"Things were a little different for the boys, though. They came in kind of wondering how to react. A lot of times, they are picking up baseball bats and gloves by this time of year."
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