Blue Devils clip Eagles, 52-48

Published 9:41 pm Friday, December 11, 2015

Escambia County won a close game that had an interesting ending over W.S. Neal tonight in the second round of the Cornell Torrence Tournament.

The Blue Devils squeaked by with a 52-48 victory, but some late-game drama shifted the dynamic of the contest.

With 9.5 seconds left in the fourth period and after a timeout, the Eagles inbounded the ball at half court. The ball was thrown in, but it bounced off of ECHS guard Eric Williams and hit WSN coach Michael Salter in the face.

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The officials ruled that possession went to the Blue Devils, but Salter protested, drawing an eventual technical foul. In fact, possession should’ve gone the Eagles way, but after a mid-court conference, the officials stuck with their original call. No foul shots were taken as a result of the technical foul

“Both teams played hard and fought to the end,” ECHS coach Bruce Craig said. “It was a close fought game. We lost our composure for a second, but we overcame it. We just got to learn how to close it out and finish a ball game.”

Craig said tonight’s finish of the game was good for the team because before long, the Blue Devils will get deep into area play after the Christmas holiday.

No lead was safe for ECHS throughout the contest. While the Blue Devils widened the gap several times in the game, the Eagles pounced back by attacking the basket and playing good defense under the basket.

W.S. Neal’s Malcolm Hawthorne propelled his team on a 6-0 run by himself to start the fourth period, tying the game at 38-all. The Eagles took their first lead of the game a possession later when Darius Tolbert penetrated the lane for an easy layup.

That lead wouldn’t last as Blue Devils guard Devon Robinson dropped a free throw, Devonté Lee got the good end of an and-one play and Triston Knott drained a 3-pointer with less than 4 minutes to go for a 44-40 advantage and a 6-0 run.

Craig said Knott’s trey helped give the team momentum in the stretch.

“It turned it around right there,” he said.

Knott made two-of-three free throws at the line with 2:46 left, and Williams fought hard under the basket for a four-point, 48-44 advantage.

Tyshawn Davis helped the Eagles stay in the contest with his height and pin-point accuracy in shooting. He got a jumper to go to cut it to two with less than a minute, and teammate Treylon Watson dished it to the rim to get it to 49-48.

Williams hit his first of a 1-and-1 at the line, and the Eagles took a timeout before the drama unfolded.

Knott led ECHS with 14 points. Anthony Fountain had 12 points, and Williams had 10.

Davis led the Eagles with 15 points, and Watson had 11.

In the first period, the first 5-of-7 shots made were 3-pointers by both teams. ECHS led 12-6 going into the second period.

The Blue Devils used their press to create turnovers, and with a 17-8 advantage, Williams got a big block on Davis on the defensive end.

Davis later created a short run of his own with a put back and a trey to cut it to 19-15 with less than three minutes left in the first half.

Robinson drained a 3-pointer, the Blue Devils played the trap game despite a good Eagles transition game and led 25-18 after Chillé Ford drove the lane at the end of the first half.

ECHS faces T.R. Miller tomorrow night at 7:30.

In girls action, TRM beat ECHS 42-15.

In the loss, Lady Blue Devils point guard Ja’Quanda Webster rolled her ankle and will be out for the next couple of games.

The girls play Flomaton at 6.