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ECHS ends season at south regional

DOTHAN — Escambia County didn’t make essential second-chance shots and fell 44-43 to Montgomery Catholic on Saturday in the Class 4A South Regional semifinal.

In a game where the lead changed 10 times and the score was tied seven times, the Blue Devils and Knights of the state capitol kept it close throughout. MC led 14-13 at halftime, and both teams were even in the second half.

ECHS boys coach Erin Straughn, who finished his first year as the Blue Devils coach, said the little things make a big difference.

“When we needed a rebound, we couldn’t dig one out,” Straughn said. “When we needed a free throw, we couldn’t dig one out. When we needed to finish through contact, we couldn’t finish the play.”

Straughn added that some of the team’s youth got exposed in the game. Two freshmen, one junior and two seniors started the game.

“It’s not necessarily due to age and certain classmen,” he said. “We just played with a bad basketball IQ.”

Freshman Lue Williams scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double effort.

Not one ECHS player matched Williams’ effort as the closest who came was Malik Brown with 6 points.

Escambia County took an early lead in the first period, started to dictate itself on the boards and pressed the Knights.

Devon Robinson found Williams on transition for a 6-3 lead.

BJ Parker of Montgomery Catholic, answered after an ECHS miss with less than 2 minutes left.

Williams then grabbed a rebound and putback to give Atmore a 8-5 advantage going into the second period.

In the second period, the Knights tied the game up on what would be a crucial 3-pointer from James Sadie. That shot, as Knights coach Robb McGaughey said, settled the boys down going into a timeout.

From there, the Blue Devils seemed to not get the shots it needed as the Knights took advantage with crucial rebounds of their own. According to the game’s stat sheet, ECHS outrebounded MC 38-23.

Charles Ryan hit the back-end of a pair with 6.3 seconds left in the first half to give the Knights a 1-point lead.

ECHS fought back from a deficit in the third period as Williams powered a putback off of a rebound with less than 3 minutes to go.

Ryan then answered with a drive up the lane.

Williams got four quick points to give the Blue Devils a 26-23 lead, but the Knights shot off four points of their own to lead 27-26 going into the fourth.

Trailing for most of the fourth, the Blue Devils made some essential free throws with more than 2 minutes left, and brought the game to within one point with 11.9 seconds left.

ECHS took a time out with 4.2 left on a MC possession, and the Knights threw a long heave, forcing the clock to run out.

For the game, ECHS made only 25 percent from the field, and 10 percent from the 3-point range.

“Montgomery Catholic is a very well-coached team,” Straughn said. “They moved the ball. They have excellent player movement. They played very hard, and attacked those boards very hard.”

Straughn said even though it was a very adversity-ridden season, the boys did well.

“Overall, it was a great season and a great run,” he said. “We fought a lot of adversity. We made it here, and it was awesome. We’ve just got to get better for next year.”

Straughn said it was a pleasure to work with the seniors, and they did what they were told, both in the classroom and on the court.

In other postseason action, the Blue Devils narrowly edged Thomasville in the subregional 35-33.

Nick Davison made a clutch layup with 7 seconds left and the Blue Devils held the Tigers.

ECHS finished its season 18-11.