Cougars claw Wildcats

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2008

By By Matthew Nascone
After scoring only nine points in the first half, the Escambia Academy Cougars scored 38 points in the second half to defeat Wilcox Academy 47-42 Monday night.
In the final area game for both teams, EA junior Blake Kirk led the Cougars to a victory.
"Blake had probably his best game of the season for us," EA head coach Kevin Woods said. "He finally had the type of game I I thought he was capable of in the last area game of the season. And that is a great time to play well."
Kirk had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Cougars. Woods said he had 12 of his 17 points in the second half and hit some key buckets for the team down the stretch.
"We were down 14-9 at halftime because we were stone cold from the field," Woods said. "We really were playing terrible until the middle of the third quarter when (sophomore) Tank Mitchell sparked our team to life. We went with a small lineup in the third quarter and pressed Wilcox into some mistakes."
Mitchell had back-to-back steals followed by layups that got the bench excited and turned the game around for EA.
Mitchell had 12 points, seven rebounds and eight steals in the game.
The Cougars (9-9, 5-1 AISA Class AA, Region 1, Area 1) trailed 25-24 when the fourth quarter opened up and scored 24 points in the final period for the decisive win.
Woods said junior Seth Lassiter came off the bench to help the Cougars with two three-pointers in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 10 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals.
The win would have been bigger if the Cougars could have knocked down some free throws in the fourth quarter. They were 9-for-21 in the game.
"We got up by 10 points and we got fouled, but we could not hit our free throws and Wilcox cut the lead to five points," Woods said. "But we played great defense with 20 seconds to go in the game and we smothered them."
Senior Tyler Harrison added 8 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore James White had six rebounds and four steals. Sophomore Austin Lee contributed five rebounds.
The win tied the Cougars with the Sparta Academy Warriors with a 5-1 area record, but the Warriors victory over EA in the Monroe Academy Christmas Classic earlier this year awarded the Warriors the regular season area championship.
The Cougars ended the regular season Tuesday against Fort Dale and the results will be in an upcoming Advance. The team travels to Evergreen for the first round of the Class AA, Area 1 Tournament Friday. Tip off is set for 4:30 p.m. against Wilcox.
Cougars 54 Marion Schools 49
The Cougars took it to Marion Schools last Friday 54-49.
Harrison led all Cougars with 17 points. Mitchell added 11 points, White had 9 points, Kirk had 8 points, Lee added 4 points, senior Tyler Brown had 3 points and Lassiter added 2 points.
"It was the same kind of game as the Wilcox game," Woods said. "We got up by a good margin, got fouled and could not make free throws. But we again pulled it out with great defense."
The Cougars were 6-for-20 from the charity stripe against Marion.
Sparta 75 Cougars 55
EA could not channel the effort that helped them out duel the Warriors Jan. 8 in Evergreen, losing 75-55 Jan. 22 in Canoe on Senior Night.
"Sparta has a lot of good shooters and we could not stop them," Woods said. "They had one kid who hit five three-pointers."
EA hung with the Warriors in the first quarter, trailing 19-15 at the end of the quarter, but the lead got away from the Cougars in the second and third quarters where they were outscored 37-21. The fourth quarter was a tie at 19-19.
White, Kirk and Harrison each contributed 9 points for the Cougars. Mitchell had 8 points, Brown and sophomore Michael Hippa each had 6 points, Lassiter added 4 points and Lee and senior Greg McGhee had 2 points apiece.

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