To the Final 4

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

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EA girls, boys play Wednesday, Thursday

Escambia Academy’s girls and boys basketball teams are playing in the AISA Class 1A Final 4 Wednesday and Thursday at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery.

The Lady Cougars defeated North River 50-38 on Feb. 2 on the road, and the boys beat Cornerstone 65-42 in the Elite 8 Tournament at home.

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The Lady Cougars will face defending state champion Lowndes Academy Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. The boys will play Trinity Feb. 8, at 9 a.m.

“The girls have a very hard game against Lowndes,” EA basketball coach Jerome Webster said. “They (Lowndes) have returning players, No. 21 and 24. They’ve been there before. Our girls are eighth and ninth graders. This is their first time being at the dance.”

Webster added that the girls will have to either mature quick or really get at it.

“It’s going to be a hard game,” he said.

When asked how the girls need to stop No. 21 and 24, Webster said the team will have to block out and keep both off the glass.

“We’ll have to take care of the ball as they are a pressing team,” he said. “And to take care of the ball, and keep them off the glass.”

On the boys game against Trinity, Webster said the boys are going to have to speed their opponent up a bit.

“We’re going to have to do better on closing out and getting back on defense in transition,” he said. “Our transition was a little sluggish on Saturday so we’re going to have to work on that. We’re going to have to work on rebounding and keeping our intensity up.”

Webster said the big key to the game is going to be 6-foot-8 big man Quinton Odom.

“Our other power forward (Charlie Sasser, leg) is out,” he said. “We’re putting it on the back of him right now. We’re putting in Cameron Bryan at that starting position.”

Webster is no stranger coaching during the postseason.

While as the boys’ interim head basketball coach at Escambia County in 2012, he helped lead the Blue Devils to a state championship appearance.

Webster said he’s telling both girls and boys teams to stay focused on the task at hand.

“It looks like you’re going to win by 20 points of whatever, and you can go into a game and very well it’s over with,” he said.

During the Elite 8, the boys were led by Rontae Watson with 31 points. Odom chipped in 17. Cornerstone’s Noah Gassner led his team with 26 points.

Zy McNeal led the Lady Cougars with points, and had big free throws in the end, Webster said.

Halle Burch led North River with 14 points.