Cougars fall in state title game
Macon-East wins back-to-back championships
MONTGOMERY — Escambia Academy couldn’t get into any rhythm against top-ranked Macon-East on Monday as the Cougars fell 67-40 in the AISA Class 2A state basketball championship at the Multiplex.
The Cougars fell behind early in the game and tried to play catch up, but foul trouble dictated their second half play as the Knights led 46-32 after the third period.
“We couldn’t ever get into the flow of the game,” EA coach Hugh Fountain said.
From the start, Macon-East, which won its second-straight basketball title, dictated the pace of play with an alley-oop dunk from Kyle Edwards to Michael Murry. ME went ahead 5-0 until EA broke the streak with a pair of free throws from Fred Flavors.
A short time later, Flavors added a put back off of a rebound to cut the Knights’ lead to 5-4.
McKinnon Hammonds, who caused some trouble for the Cougars at center, got a jumper and a three-point play to give the Knights a 10-4 advantage with 4:22 left in the opening period.
The Knights kept punching the ball in from there, and led 15-6 after an Edwards pull up jumper.
Louie Turner and Ti Taylor then led a short run for the Cougars.
After the first period, the Knights led 17-10.
Later in the second period, MJ Jones drive the lane to cut it to 20-14, but Hammonds made a pair and drove the lane for a 24-14 lead.
A bright spark formed for EA on a short 4-0 run to end the first half with the Knights ahead 31-23.
Taylor led a 5-0 run early in the third period, and EA took a timeout shortly afterward.
From the timeout, the Cougars found themselves in a 39-28 hole and some 30 seconds later, one of their best players, Neikel Robinson, fouled out.
Fountain said he decided to go with Robinson in the starting line up after halftime because he wanted to have the best on the floor.
“I just went with him,” he said. “MJ survived the whole second half with only four.”
Hammonds got a three-point play with 27.3 seconds left in the third to put the game out of reach. ME led 46-32 going into the fourth period.
While the Knights outscored the Cougars 21-8 in the fourth, EA didn’t give up its fight for some points. Flavors and Jones kept pounding the paint even while trailing.
Fountain said the boys’ shots didn’t fall when they needed to.
“We didn’t shoot very well tonight,” he said. “We didn’t really fight for good enough shots. I think we let the foul trouble worry us too much.”
Fountain said the senior class was a good one, finishing their season 14-4.
Flavors led EA with 13 points. Taylor chipped in nine.
Lorgan Goree led the Knights with 27 points; Murry scored 13; and Edwards contributed with 12.
Lee said it was quite hard to come back when down so much.
“We just went flat,” he said. “Hats still go off to them. They have a good ball club.”
Lee said he’s excited for the Cougars for next year. EA has Jace Daniels and Taylor returning to the team.
Fountain said he reminded the boys that they had a good opportunity to play for the championship on Monday.
“Like to told them, it’s painful to lose the game, but we had an opportunity,” he said.