ECHS headed to semifinals

Published 5:06 pm Saturday, February 23, 2013


DOTHAN — Pack your bags; Escambia County is heading back to Birmingham.

The Blue Devils worked overtime to earn a 65-61 victory over Wilcox Central in Saturday’s Class 4A boys South Regional final, sending them to the 4A state semifinals for the second straight season.

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Escambia County – a school that has never won a state basketball title – advances to next week’s state semifinals at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, where the season ended a year ago. The Blue Devils play Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

“I think we’ve got a good shot to win it,” Escambia County senior Fred Knight said.

Knight led the Devils with 17 points, Desmond Williams added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Tony McAroy had 11 points. Freddie Smith led Wilcox Central with 26 points.

Escambia County threatened to pull away in the fourth quarter, but the Jagaurs’ Makarius Chapman’s 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer tied the game at 56-all and forced overtime.

Knight made two free throws with 21.7 seconds to play, forcing the Jaguars to make a 3-pointer to force an extra period. Chapman misfired on a 3-pointer with about five seconds remaining, but Lamont Lyle grabbed the rebound and fired a pass to Chapman, whose arching 3-pointer swished as the final horn sounded.

“When he missed the first one,” said Escambia County first-year coach Earlando Courtney, “we should have got the rebound. But we didn’t. And he did what big-time players do, and he’s a big-time player.”

The Blue Devils then dominated overtime and pulled away for the win.

“They came to play,” said Wilcox coach Mark Dukes said, referring to Escambia County. “They brought their ‘A’ game.”