Blue Devils top Hillcrest-Evergreen 56-52
In a close game, every shot counts.
Escambia County outlasted Class 3A No. 4 Hillcrest-Evergreen 56-52 Friday at home on senior night, rallying late to hold off a late Jaugars surge.
The Blue Devils went on a 7-0 run in the first period, but HHS bounced back with shots of its own. However, the Blue Devils led 11-7 after the first period.
Kaiden Arnold converted a 3-pointer, and Tyson Moorer hit a 3-pointer with more than 4 minutes left in the second.
Hillcrest came back on a 5-0 run thanks to some baseline turnovers to cut it to 20-17 a short time later.
Then, Jacobey James went coast to coast for a 24-17 advantage after Hakeem Johnson’s layup.
The Jaguars didn’t go away as they tied the game up on a drive to the basket from Kesharvis Jones. Beforehand, Camron Rudolph got a rebound and putback to give HHS a 26-24 lead.
ECHS led 28-26 at halftime.
Both teams went back and forth, never letting the lead differential get above five points.
In the fourth, the same story ensued, but at around the 5 minute mark, Escambia County’s Jacob Dirden provided a much-needed spark.
Dirden hit a 3-pointer to give the Blue Devils a 50-45 advantage, and got a block on the defensive end. He then found Stephen Williams for an easy conversion.
James made a crucial free throw with 7.5 seconds left.
Sheldon Williams led ECHS with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists; Moorer had 13 points and five assists; Dirden had seven points and five rebounds; James added six points; and Arnold had five points and seven rebounds.
Jones led HHS with 12 points.
ECHS will host St. Michael next Thurs., Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Class 4A, Area 1 semifinals.
In girls action, the Lady Blue Devils beat Hillcrest-Evergreen 64-43.
The Lady Blue Devils will play in a play-in game at home against W.S. Neal for the area tournament. Tip off is at 6 p.m.