Escambia County defense too much for Jackson, Blue Devils win 48-40

Published 9:10 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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Escambia County’s defense proved too much for Jackson as the Blue Devils beat the Aggies 48-40 tonight in area action at Cornell Torrence Gymnasium in Atmore.

From the early onset, the game’s play dictated the story of the game. ECHS led 5-4 after the first period. The Blue Devils held a 24-13 lead at halftime, and had a 33-22 advantage going into the fourth.

During the fourth period, Escambia County built a 15-point lead, but Jackson went on a 13-0 run to cut the game to two. The Blue Devils made some necessary free throws in the end.

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“We just tried to win it on defense,” ECHS basketball coach Layton Knight said. “We made a defensive adjustment, and did what we were trying to do. They’ve got one shooter, and we just wanted to make it hard for him.”

The victory put the Blue Devils at 14-7 overall, and 5-1 in Class 4A, Area 2 play. Jackson still has to play T.R. Miller next Monday to finish regular-season area play. If the Aggies beat the Tigers, then ECHS and JHS will have a coin toss to determine who hosts the area tournament. Jackson beat TRM 56-49 on Jan. 10.

Knight said he knew Jackson was going to go on a run, even with his team ahead by 15 in the fourth period.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” he said. “We just needed to maintain, and keep our wits about us.

“I just wanted to win,” he said. “We did it, and I’m proud of my boys.”

In the fourth, Ha’Keem Johnson hit a pair of free shots, Stephen Williams hit three free throws and Jovaughnta Henderson got a rebound and put back to help ECHS take a 40-25 lead.

Then, Jackson’s Roderick Hamilton Jr. and Micah Caster hit 3-pointers, and Nasir Powell got a jumper to go to cut Escambia County’s lead to seven. Hamilton added another trey, and Powell converted off a turnover to get the game to within two with more than 3 minutes left.

The Blue Devils, needing a lift, and much needed conversion, got it in a pair of free throws from Lorenzo Arnold with 2:18 left.

Arnold would then convert a dunk off a steal and pass from Anthony McCants to give ECHS a 43-38 lead with 1:56 left.

Then, Williams hit a pair of free throws, and Johnson added a few down the stretch.

During the first period, Johnson hit a 3-pointer early, and Williams got a rebound-putback.

Arnold got a 3-pointer with 7:30 left in the second, and Johnson followed with one of his own. Henderson’s layup gave the Blue Devils a 13-6 lead in the first half.

Late in the first half, Mike French found Henderson on a sweet pass in the paint.

Johnson led the Blue Devils with 14 points, and Williams contributed with 11. Henderson added nine in the effort.

Jonah Hughes led JHS with nine points.

In girls action, Jackson won 58-22.

C’Anna Betts led ECHS with 14 points.

Jasmine Jones led JHS with 15 points, and Jamesha Powell added 10.

Escambia County hosts Hillcrest-Evergreen next Tues., Jan. 31.