Bolar makes 2 free throws with 2 seconds left, Blue Devils edge UMS 43-41 in 4A sub regional
Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include Saturday’s regional semifinal game time.
MOBILE – Escambia County freshman Cleo Bolar made two free throws with 2 seconds left, and the Blue Devils held on late to beat UMS-Wright 43-41 tonight in a Class 4A South Sub Regional on the road.
Before Bolar made the eventual game-winning shots, the Bulldogs tied the game at 41-all on a massive 3-pointer from Joe Lott, who was hot from the perimeter in the second half.
Once Lott made the tying shot, two quick timeouts were called, one from each team.
Out of the timeout, Bolar drove down the sideline left sideline, where he was fouled.
“There’s a lot more to come from him,” ECHS boys basketball coach Layton Knight said about Bolar. “That’s all we wanted to do. We had some momentum breakdowns in the end, but we ended up doing good.”
With the victory, the No. 5 Blue Devils advance to play Booker T. Washington in the South Regional Semifinal this Sat., Feb. 18, at 4:30 p.m. at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery.
For the fourth period, Bolar was 5-of-6 from the free throw line en route to 13 points for the game. Tae Henderson also finished with 13 points to lead ECHS. Stephen Williams scored 10 points.
In the fourth period, Escambia County led 32-26 early. UMS’s Bridges Simmons got an early layup, and added a 3-pointer to cut it to three points.
However, Henderson found some room inside for two buckets back to back for a seven-point advantage. Mike French added a drive up the lane to increase the Blue Devils’ lead by nine.
The Bulldogs, who climbed back from a 15-point deficit, added a 3-pointer from Lott, and then called a timeout to think things over.
From the timeout, Williams was called for goal tending on the defensive end, but Bolar answered with his first two free throws of the period.
Simmons drove the paint soon after, and teammate Arthur Chitty added a rebound and put back to make it a 40-38 ball game with less than 45 seconds left.
Knight called a timeout with 43.5 seconds to go, and from there, Bolar made one free throw on a 1-and-1 to lead 41-38.
Needing a 3-pointer to tie, UMS got it with Lott shooting from the bottom of the arch.
Knight said he knew UMS was going to be hard to play against, especially on the road.
“But, we beat a good team, and I knew they couldn’t stop us in the paint,” he said. “I knew it was going to be hard to stop us in the paint. That’s going to be our bread and butter. You’ve got to stop us inside. We’ve got guards that can shoot.”
French contributed with six points in the win for ECHS.
Lott led UMS with 19 points.
The Blue Devils built a 15-point lead in the third period on a 7-0 run early. Henderson got a free throw and later a put back, Williams made a jumper and Bolar got a steal and layup with more than 4 minutes left.
However, UMS would bounce back on a drive from Simmons, a rebound/put back and a steal/layup from Lott to cut the lead to nine.
Henderson later found Williams for a bucket and a 11-point advantage.
Lott added a 3-pointer at the buzzer going into the fourth.
“We just had to weather the storm,” Knight said about the third period. “We knew that basketball is a game of runs. We knew they were going to make a run at one point in time.”
ECHS led 23-12 going into halftime.
In the first period, both teams got off to a slow start as they got a feel for each other. ECHS broke away with 3-0 run on a Ha’Keem Johnson free throw and a Henderson drive inside.