COUGARS WIN REGION TITLE
EA to play at Elite 8 Feb. 11
Escambia Academy was in control the entire game.
The Cougars used that feeling and beat Monroe Academy 52-48 Monday night to win the AISA Class 2A, Region 2 (Area 2) championship in Canoe.
Utilizing a 7-0 run at the end of the second period, a 6-0 run in the third and holding on late in a back-and-forth contest, the Cougars (13-5, 5-1) prevailed to earn a bye in the first round of the Elite 8 Tournament in Montgomery. EA plays the winner of the Region 1, Area 2 and Area 1 game on Feb. 11 at 1:30 p.m. in the Multiplex of the Cramton Bowl.
EA coach James Smith said he kept telling his players that they were still in control of the game.
“The one thing, if anybody understands the game of basketball, I was telling my kids that we were still in control of the game,” Smith said. “You have to know that there is no reason to rush. Being a former basketball player, you understand what they’re going through.
“(Assistant coaches) Coach Larry and White do a good job of making sure our players are grounded,” he said. “You could see a sense of panic on Monroe’s side.”
In the final moments of the game, EA gained a lead it would never relinquish.
Tiquale Taylor hit a jump shot to cut the Vols’ lead to one at 45-44. Bryant Quimby added a field goal after a rebound to tie the game at 46 with less than 3:30 to go.
Taylor then added a much-needed jump shot, and after a Cougars timeout, Lake Higdon got two free shots for MA with 1:33 left in the game.
Quimby added a nice jump shot to go up two, and Taylor drained two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to earn the win.
During the 7-0 run in the third, Li’Terrance McCants hit a pull up jumper, T.J. Riley got three free throws to go and Taylor hit a layup off a steal. However, the Vols led 22-19 at the break.
In the third period, Tyrese Smith began the run with the back-end of a pair, and Taylor added a drive along the baseline field goal. McCants then added a drive to the bucket, and a conversion off a steal to cut it to 37-36 at the end of the third period.
Smith said those runs were huge, adding the Jason Davis, among others, were key in the win.
“I can tell you one thing, Jaybo Davis, he is just such an energy player and is an All-American,” he said. “He told me, ‘Coach I’ll do whatever you need me to do. He gave his all. He’s a big reason why we were able to accomplish what we did, especially. He’s well undersized with a couple big men down there, but he fights so hard that you don’t know that he’s the smaller guy. He just got so much fight in him.
“Tiquale played lights out, Tyrese was defensively strong and Literrance, he’s a smart and high IQ player,” Smith said. “With Quimby, we know what we get with him. TJ didn’t get as many minutes, but was productive, and the same thing goes with Landon Sims.”
Taylor led EA with 22 points; Quimby added 11 points; Smith contributed with eight points; and McCants had seven points.
Monroe Academy’s Will Norris led the Vols with 20 points, and A. Dean added 10 points.
Early on, the contest was a back-and-forth affair. MA led 12-9 after the first period.
In girls action, MA won 56-14.
In junior varsity boys action, the Cougars beat beat Autauga Academy 32-21, and lost to Edgewood 25-20 in the state semifinals.