ECHS pounds W.S. Neal on senior night in Atmore

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
Third time's a charm.
That phrase had much meaning to the Escambia County Blue Devils Friday night in Atmore against the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles. The Blue Devils first two victories against Neal were stripped after it was found out they used an ineligible player, but Friday the Blue Devils took the Blue Eagles down for the third time this season, and it counted.
"It was a good win for us as we enter the area tournament," ECHS head coach Jerome Antone said. "And we got a chance to play everybody and that was a good thing on senior night."
Fittingly, it was a senior who led the charge against Neal. Frank Taylor dropped 40 points on the Blue Eagles in his final regular season game as a Blue Devil.
But Taylor was not the only senior who turned in a good night, Anthony Matthews added a career-high 24 points in the win and every senior scored as Shavauhia Knight and Brandon Marshall scored five points each and Earl Purifoy added three points
Also scoring for ECHS were Kingston Craft with six points, Derrick Riley with five points and Jarrod Jefferson with two points.
The No. 3 seeded Blue Devils (6-20, 1-5) open Class 4A Area 1 Tournament play in Jackson against No. 2 seeded Thomasville Friday. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. The winner of that game will play the winner of host Jackson and Monroe County in the Area Championship Monday.
"We now have a five-game win streak going into the tournament," Antone said. "And that streak is coming at the right time. Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the tournament. And I don't believe there is any one team who will dominate the tournament. We can throw all the records out the door because everyone is 0-0 when the tournament starts."
Lady Blue Devils 91 – W.S. Neal 23
The No. 5 Escambia County Lady Blue Devils held W.S. Neal from scoring a field goal in the second half of ECHS's 91-23 victory Friday in Atmore. The victory was the team's 12th straight win.
"It was not my intention to show up W.S. Neal, but it was our last game before the playoffs and we had to work on some things," ECHS head coach Todd Reynolds said. "And it was senior night, so I left my seniors in there for a longer time than I would normally do.'
Those seniors had business as usual as Ashanti Jones scored 18 points, Ashley Kidd added 17 points, Jasmine Sanders contributed 14 points and Kristen Culliver had four points.
Courtney English also had a good scoring night with 17 points.
But the key to victory was the pressing defense of the Lady Devils. They allowed no field goals and only seven free throws in the second half and the Lady Blue Eagles managed only seven field goals in the first half of play.
Overall, Reynolds said ECHS (24-5, 6-0) accomplished the task at hand.
"We wanted to work on our game plan for the first round of the area tournament," Reynolds said.
The Lady Devils host the area tournament and face Monroe County in the first round tomorrow at 7 p.m. The winner of that game faces the victor of the Thomasville vs. Jackson game played at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at 7 p.m.

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