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A back-and-forth game in Jackson ends in heartbreak for the Devils

By By Matthew Nascone
In a game that saw 13 lead changes and 13 three-point baskets, the No. 2-seeded Escambia County Blue Devils came up on the losing end of a 59-57 score against No. 3-seeded Thomasville in the first round of the Class 4A, Area 1 Tournament in Jackson Feb. 8.
The Devils (11-13) snatched a 56-53 lead with 1:40 to play in the game on a three-pointer by junior James Webster. THS scored to cut the lead to 56-55. Webster was fouled and made one of two free throws to give ECHS a 57-55 lead with 1:03 left in the game.
The Tigers drove a dagger into the hearts of ECHS on the next possession with a three-pointer that gave them a 58-57 lead with 48 seconds left.
The Blue Devils got the ball back with 11.6 seconds after THS made one of two free throws to push the lead to 59-57, but could not do anything with the ball on their next possession.
The drama built to one last play with 1.8 seconds remaining after two missed free throws by Thomasville, but the game ended before the Devils could heave a miracle shot.
The end result may not have been what Hayes was hoping for, but the Devils opened the game with the enthusiasm and desire he was looking for with two quick three-pointers from sophomore Kingston Craft and senior Katral James to grab a 6-0 lead.
The first quarter ended with the teams deadlocked in a 14-14 tie. The Devils won the second quarter 14-13 for a slight 28-27 edge as the teams entered the locker room for halftime.
Another 14-14 tie marked the third quarter. The Tigers edged ECHS 18-15 in the final quarter for the win.
Hayes said the game was evidence of what a team can do when they play as one.
Craft led the scoring for ECHS with 19 points, including five three-pointers. He added three steals, two rebounds and one assist.
James poured in 14 points, including two three-pointers and 11 points in the second half. He also had eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Webster contributed nine points with two three-pointers. Seniors Deon Frye, James Lykes and Jarrod Jefferson each had four points. Frye had five rebounds and one steal and Lykes and Jefferson each had six rebounds. Senior Josh Adams had three points and one rebound.