On the road at home

Published 8:53 am Thursday, January 3, 2013

ECHS coach and Thomasville High School graduate Earlando Courtney will take the Blue Devils to meet the Tigers Friday. Above, a Blue Devil goes over a Flomaton Hurricane in the Escambia County championship.

It may seem strange, but Escambia County High School head basketball coach Earlando Courtney will truly be at home Friday when his team takes on the Thomasville Tigers on the road in the Devils’ first area match up.

“It’s going to be the first time I’ve coached against my old high school,” Courtney said Wednesday. “When you grow up in Thomasville, all you know is maroon and gray, so it’s a big deal for me personally.”

Courtney, whose team won the Escambia County tournament in December, is in his first year at ECHS, but won a state championship in 2010 in Greensboro and is looking to replicate that success in Atmore. He said Wednesday, getting their first area win will be a big step in that process.

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“They’re going to be more physical than anybody we’ve faced,” Courtney said. “It’s our first area game. Thomasville is big and physical and athletic. They’ve got a big nose guard. They’ve got some real good athletes.”

Courtney said the Tigers are at a bit of a disadvantage because they have more basketball players coming into the season late because of football season than ECHS does.

“With their athletic ability, they’ll be right there come tournament time, but they still got to get their basketball legs underneath them.”

Thomasville will enter the game with a 4-5 record, according to Maxpreps.com, but Courtney said a recent win has evened the team out at 5-5. The Devils, who clenched the county tournament championship with a 67-28 win over the Flomaton Hurricanes during their last game, enter the match up 7-5. Courtney said his team has enough raw talent to build on their wins, but must have the heart and work ethic to practice hard and play complete games as well.

“I probably have more basketball talent than any team in the area,” he said. “But with power comes responsibility. If you show up trying to rely on talent alone, you’re going to get beat.”

Courtney said he is looking forward to being able to coach at his alma mater and in front of his hometown crowd, but is more focused on getting a win.

“It’s going to be great,” he said. “But we need to get a win. I would really like to leave there with them saying ‘wow.’”

Tip off for action between the Devils and the Tigers is scheduled for Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Thomasville.