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ECHS declaws Jaguars

By By Matthew Nascone
The 2006-07 season was off to a running start for the Escambia County Lady Blue Devils as they destroyed the Hillcrest High School Lady Jaguars, 67-37 Monday night in Evergreen.
That fast start included much pressure on the defensive side of the ball and ECHS only allowed six points in the first quarter of play.
"The effort was definitely there tonight," ECHS head coach Todd Reynolds said after the game. "We had a few break downs in the middle of our press, but it was a good game. And for it to be our first game and (Hillcrest's) fourth game, we did all right."
All right to the tune of 27 points for senior guard Ashanti Jones. Jones led the way for ECHS (1-0) and towards the end of the game Reynolds had to slow Jones' enthusiasm.
"We were up by 30 and she was still running quickly down and scoring," he said. "So I had to tell her to slow it down. But I love that kind of effort."
Reynolds said there are things to work on, but that will always happen after the first game. Reynolds points to senior leadership as a big key in the win.
"These seniors have come a long way and I am glad to have them on this team," Reynolds said. "They work hard and that is great."
Reynolds said this season will be determined by how well the team can execute the press defense.
"That is going to be our calling card," he said. "We want to press the other team and make them tired. We won't be outworked."
Senior Jasmine Sanders scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Lady Blue Devils. Senior Ashley Kidd added 10 points and eight rebounds. Junior Anushka Banks scored six points and snagged seven rebounds. Sophomore Courtney English added five points. Sophomores Latesha Lee and Megan Hartley contributed two points each and junior Taneika Crimbley hit one free throw for one point.
Hillcrest 48 – ECHS 32
The Escambia County Blue Devils hung with the defending AHSAA Class 4A state boys' champion Hillcrest High Jaguars for three quarters, but the Jaguars pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 48-32 victory Monday night.
The Blue Devils (0-1) came out of the gates slow and trailed at the half, 26-17. ECHS head coach Jerome Antone said he is not worried.
"I look at it as the first game and now we know what we have to work on," Antone said. "We need to work a little harder and handle the ball better. We did not handle the ball well at all in this game."
Antone said the main problem was transition.
"We couldn't transition and when we couldn't do that, it took out a whole lost of things for us," he said. "But we will go back to the drawing board and work it out."
Antone said before the season started that his team was going to be a more physical, inside team, and he was happy with how they played underneath the basket.
"We got the ball inside well," Antone said. "And we had opportunities during the entire game, but we just couldn't take advantage of them."
Senior Frank Taylor led the team with 11 points. Junior Trey Hartley added 10 points. Junior Lee Watson and freshman Kingston Craft contributed four points each. Junior James Lykes added two points.
Hillcrest 42 – ECHS JV 38
The ECHS JV boys opened the night at 4:45 p.m., but they could not grab a win, dropping a close game, 42-38.
First-year head coach Daniel Hubbard was happy with the effort his team put in, especially in the fourth quarter.
"We made a good run at the end," Hubbard said. "But our problem all night was that we were not ready for the physical style of play Hillcrest had. And we were not able to run our offense.
Scoring for the Blue Devils were James Webster with 13 points, Reginald Yelder with eight points, Ja'Corey Ferrell with five points, Jonathan Gholsby with four points, Lawrence Arnold with three points and Dontavious Johnson with two points.