Welcome freshmen

Published 7:10 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

After beating the Panthers at the buzzer Saturday, the Escambia County High School freshmen basketball lost Monday night to Murphy in the championship game of the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tournament.

The Panthers won the hard-fought final game 45-38 to take the championship in the tournament that featured freshmen and middle school teams from the area.

The Blue Devils and Panthers ended the first quarter tied at eight, but Murphy took the lead early in the second quarter by scoring five straight points with five minutes remaining to take a 15-10 lead.

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The Panthers led 22-18 at the end of the first half.

Murphy scored six straight points to push its lead to 10 at 28-18 with five minutes left. ECHS was held scoreless at the halfway point.

“They switched on defense,” said Blue Devils coach Gavin King. “They were playing zone in the first half, but switched to man-to-man. That was tough for us.”

King said the Blue Devils defense kept them in the game, but there were too many missed opportunities on offense.

“Too many misses on foul shots and layups pretty much was the difference for us,” he said.

Murphy took its biggest lead of the game at 30-18 and 32-20 with 3:21 left in the third quarter. The Panthers were in the midst of a 10-2 run.

The Blue Devils’ Dalvin Patterson was sent to the foul line late in the third quarter, but missed both shots. He grabbed his own rebound and was fouled again. Lee made both shots and cut into the Panther lead at 34-24 with 1:07 left in the quarter.

ECHS’ Emmanuel Etheridge blocked a shot on the Panthers’ ensuing possession, but a walk by Patterson gave Murphy the ball back with 27 seconds left in the quarter.

Etheridge rejected two more Panthers shots to start the fourth quarter and the Devils were able to bring the score within six points at the 5:49 mark.

Gayton Thames hit a layup and was fouled with 4:30 left in the game. He converted the three-point play to bring the score within three at 36-33.

Murphy answered with two foul shots to extend the lead to five with 3:45 left. Foul shot makes late in the game gave Murphy a 43-35 lead with 1:24 left. The Panthers held on to win 45-38.

Thames and Patterson were named to the all-tournament team. Northview’s Trent Howell was also named.

Etheridge, Devontae Lee and Thames all scored eight points for the Blue Devils, while Patterson added six points.