Cougars advance to regional title games

Published 8:48 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

Escambia Academy's Trae Lee struggles to get a shot off earlier tonight.  Lee led the Cougars with 18 points. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Escambia Academy’s Trae Lee struggles to get a shot off earlier tonight. Lee led the Cougars with 18 points. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

EA boys top Autauga Christian Academy 71-61 in regional semifinals; girls run away with win

GREENVILLE — Playing good defense, coupled with stellar rebounding helped propel Escambia Academy to a 71-61 victory over Autauga Academy in the semifinals of the AISA Class 3A, Region 2 tournament tonight at Fort Dale.

The Cougars stifled the Generals in the paint and utilized their fast-paced fast-break offense to convert some easy shots during the contest.

EA coach Hugh Fountain said the coaches told the boys that rebounding was the key to the game.

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“We outrebounded them,” Fountain said. “We converted most of our easy shots. Then, we made some free throws in the end.”

The #REDNATION trailed 13-10 after the first period, but took a 20-18 lead after Trae Lee’s old-fashioned 3-point play with 3:55 left in the first half that they’d never relinquish for the rest of the game.

Louie Turner got an offensive board and put back to give EA a 22-18 lead after the Cougars got a stop on the defensive end.

ACA cut it to one with a 3-pointer from eighth-grader Murry with less than three minutes left.

EA senior guard Bradley Geck made a rebound and put back, senior H.T. Fountain got a layup to go and Lee dished in a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to help the Cougars go up 29-21.

ACA got in a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but still trailed EA 33-26.

Fountain said the boys played focused.

“They knew what we had to do most of the night,” he said. “We had great hustle out of the guys.”

Fountain said his big guys played well, too.

“I was proud of that,” he said. “It was a big win for us.”

EA moves on to face Hooper Academy in the regional championship. HA beat Pike Liberal Arts 60-47 in the semifinals.

The Cougars’ defense didn’t let up in the third period as Lee found Geck for an easy conversion, and added a pair of free throws to put the Canoe school up for good at 37-28.

Tyler Sells drove the lane, but dished it to Lee for an easy bucket, and then got up off a pass from HT Fountain for a healthy 41-28 lead.

Fred Flavors later got a layup to go to give EA a 46-33 lead going into the final minutes of the third. He added a pair of free throws, and the Cougars led 48-38 going into the fourth.

Down the stretch, Sells went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, despite ACA bringing the game to within 10 late.

Lee led EA with 18 points; Geck had 17 points; Sells scored 14 points; Turner and Flavors had seven points each.

Escambia Academy girls 40, Pike Liberal Arts 38

Trailing 33-25 in the fourth period, EA’s girls went on a 12-0 run to take a lead they’d never give up in a close game against the Lady Patriots of Pike Lib.

“We played very tough,” Lady Cougars coach Cale Thompson said. “Our team worked really hard. In the fourth (period), our team had such confidence and intensity late.

“I’m so proud of our team,” he said.

EA's Cassidy Murphy takes a shot under the basket. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

EA’s Cassidy Murphy takes a shot under the basket. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

The run all started with Cassidy Murphy’s back-end of a pair of free throws to cut the game to 33-26.

The Lady Cougars started a half-court press, which rattled the Lady Patriots.

Senior guard Mikayla Spruill made a layup to cut it to five at 33-28 with more than 4:30 to go.

Pike missed a couple of free shots, and the Cougars took a timeout to come up with a good game plan for down the stretch.

After the short break, Murphy got a rebound, which sent the crowd, which seemed to know what’s about to happen, in a frenzy.

Alia Snow converted one free throw on a pair, but Murphy got the rebound off the missed shot and forced a jump ball call to the Lady Cougars.

Spruill drove the lane and was fouled. She made her two to bring it to 33-31, and Kaile Gumapac made a half-court steal and was fouled on the rush back.

Gumapac made her pair to tie the game with 2:52 left

Murphy gave EA its first lead of the game on a rebound and putback with more than a minute to go.

Snow then made two free shots, Spruill added in another free throw and tow more late to ice the game with 27.3 left.

Pike did get an old-fashioned 3-point play with 9.2 seconds remaining, but the Lady Cougars ate the clock out after Bailey Lancaster tried for a pair.

Spruill led EA with 17 points; Snow chipped in seven; and Murphy and Lancaster had six points each.

The Lady Cougars advance to play Fort Dale tomorrow at 4 p.m. in the regional championship.