Round two knockout

Published 6:09 pm Monday, January 29, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
In the first round of the Border War between Escambia County High School in Atmore and Northview High School in Bratt, Fla. earlier this year, the Blue Devils and Lady Blue Devils from Alabama took down the Chiefs and Lady Chiefs from Florida. The evening of Jan. 23 was more of the same in this interstate rivalry.
The Lady Blue Devils won big again by the count of 62-14, but the Blue Devils were caught in a battle with Northview, winning 65-58.
"It was a great victory for us," ECHS head coach Jerome Antone said. "We are gelling at the right time and we are now on a three-game winning streak."
But the game itself was not as easy a win as the first time these two teams clashed. On Nov. 28 the Blue Devils traveled to Northview and came away with a 26-point win, 76-50, but Jan. 23 showed the improvement NHS head coach Leonard White said his team has made.
"I am proud of how my guys played out there," White said. "They have come a long way since the beginning of the season."
That was evident when the Chiefs kept the game close up until the end. The Atmore lead was only 17-16 after one quarter was in the books. And the halftime Blue Devil lead was 35-30, but the true indication of how tight the game was could be found in the score as the teams entered the final quarter. The game was knotted at 45-45 entering that final frame.
"It was a back-and-forth game," Antone said. "We couldn't get away from them. Every time we would build a lead, they would come right back at us. We just couldn't put them away."
Antone said close games like the Northview game will give his team confidence entering the area tournament.
"We were never up by more than seven, but our guys hung in there and closed the game out," he said. "And that is what we have to do to win the close games."
Towards the end of the game White said the Chiefs went cold and were not able to make any jump shots or layups.
"We just didn't make our shots," White said. "But the main thing is our guys are playing together and they are playing harder and smarter than earlier in the season."
A crucial foul with 37 seconds to go in the game, as the Chiefs were down by three put the game out of reach when Atmore scored on the next possession.
Also missing on the court for the Chiefs was the precision shooting of junior Nakita Myles. Myles managed 20 points, but White said it seemed as if he was having an off day.
"It just seemed like Nakita couldn't get it going out there," White said. "He played hard like he always does, but he just didn't have it and we just had an off night."
Myles led the Chiefs with 20 points and Tarus Thomas added 12 points. Frank Taylor continued to lead the Blue Devils with 28 points, Kingston Craft added 12 points and Shavauhia Knight scored eight points.
The Devils hosted Monroe County in their final area game of the season Friday night and the results will be in an upcoming Advance.
Lady Devils 62 – Lady Chiefs 14
The ECHS Lady Blue Devils protected their home court in grand fashion Jan. 23 with a 62-14 thumping of the visiting Lady Chiefs of Northview.
The Lady Devils were making sure they do not have a let down game before the AHSAA Class 4A Area 1 Tournament opens on their home court Feb. 5 and NHS was looking towards the future, according to ECHS assistant coach William Casaday and NHS head coach Lorenzo Jones, respectively.
"We wanted to go out and work on some things," Casaday said. "And we wanted to get a lot of girls some playing time. We accomplished both tasks."
"They (ECHS) dominated the game, but I think our girls played OK," Jones said. "We were outmanned and outclassed, but we were also down three starters, so I think our girls did all right. And at this point, we are trying to get our girls focused on working hard in the offseason to get better."
Ashanti Jones led the scoring with 15 points and she added eight assists for the Lady Blue Devils. Courtney English added 12 points, Megan Hartley scored 12 points, Jasmine Sanders contributed six points and 10 rebounds, Ashley Kidd also scored six points, Jodeci Craft scored two points and Timeka Crimbley added one point.
Brittney Thompson led the Lady Chiefs with six points, Timeka Marshall had four points and Melissa Garrett and Amber McMillan scored two points each.
After taking down Jackson on Jan. 19, T.R. Miller Jan. 22 and Northview Jan. 23, the Lady Blue Devils are now ranked No. 5 in the latest Alabama Sports Writers Association poll.
The Lady Devils hosted Monroe County in their final area game of the season Friday night and the results will be in an upcoming Advance.

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