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Nickson leads Lady Blue Devils by Andalusia [with gallery]

ECHS tops Lady Bulldogs 51-50 in area tournament semifinals

MONROEVILLE — Escambia County’s Jacala Nickson made a layup with 6.7 seconds left and the Lady Blue Devils held off a scrappy Andalusia 51-50 in the semifinals of the Class 4A, Area 2 tournament tonight at Monroe County.

Nickson led ECHS with 22 points on the night, and made the game-winning field goal after Andalusia’s Shalisa Thomas made a pair of free throws to give her team a 50-49 lead.

Nickson got the ball and attacked the basket, which was a common theme throughout the second half.

With the win, the Lady Blue Devils advance to play Monroe County in the area championship on Friday. Tip off is at 6 p.m. Additionally, ECHS earned a berth to the sub region. The area winner hosts the sub regional round.

“I’m just happy my kids fought to the end,” ECHS girls coach Maurice Bradley said. “We’ve come a long way since game one. These girls — it’s just unbelievable how they continue to come to practice and play.

“I was just happy for them to get this win and see this kind of success,” he said.

After leading 27-19 at halftime, ECHS went on a 8-0 run midway through the third period, thanks to some fast breaks off of steals.

Nickson completed the third-period run on a three-point play.

The Lady Bulldogs to their namesake never gave up in the third as they finished the third on a 8-1 run, but ECHS led 38-33.

Andalusia began the fourth with a 3-pointer by Alex Crittenden to cut the game to three, but ECHS kept ahead thanks to a pass in the paint from C’anna Betts to Darriona Nichols for an easy bucket.

Nickson was at it again after she completed a short 4-0 run.

Andalusia’s Kabrecia Presley made back-to-back 3-pointers, and Kennadie Wilcox got a rebound and putback to give the game to 46-44 with ECHS still leading.

The Lady Blue Devils fought to keep the lead until Thomas’ two free throws with 14.8 seconds left.

Although the girls did rebound well in the second half, Bradley said the girls were a little tired.

“They (AHS) had more energy,” he said. “I got about a seven-deep rotation. I’m happy they fought through it.”

All week, Bradley said, Nickson was talking about making history tonight.

He said this is the first time in three years that ECHS has made it passed the semifinals of the area tournament.

Betts contributed with 10 points; Nichols and Jayla Adams had eight points each.

Thomas led AHS with 16; Presley had 13; and Wilcox had 11.