By JOSH FRYE
Escambia Academy senior basketball standout Tiquale Taylor was recently honored for reaching 1,200 career points.
According to EA head coach James Smith and EA headmaster Hugh Fountain, it is still unconfirmed if the points milestone is a new school record.
“Once basketball season is completed, we will have a better idea,” Smith said. “Some of our scoring books are not accurate, so we will have to review game film to get an accurate and exact number of points. All that we can confirm at this point is that Taylor has over 1,200 points and that we are anticipating a new record to be set.”
Taylor, a 6-3, 180-pound power forward who is a native of Century, Fla. has been the star of the Cougars basketball team for the last three years. Tallying double digits in every game this season, he has been the rock that the Cougars have leaned on to help lead them to perhaps another state championship season.
“Tiquale is an excellent athlete and person,” Fountain said. “He is the type of kid that is always striving to do better. He has been a positive for our school and himself.”
Fountain first met Taylor when the teen visited EA football games with his father. Since that point, the athletic director and the star player have become close and, according to Taylor, Fountain has served as a father figure.
“Taylor has not only been a star on the court but has also shined on the football field and in track,” Fountain said. “He is a gifted kid and doesn’t waste his potential. It is always good to witness kids grow into men. He (Taylor) is a great kid, who will do great things.”
For Taylor, time at EA has served as multiple life- changing experiences, and he couldn’t be more thankful.
“EA has been a great school,” he said. “There is a great family atmosphere here, and the coaches are like having another father present. I look up to Coach Fountain, Coach Smith and Coach Mike Sims. They care about what you do outside of sports and offer help and guidance anytime it is needed.”
Taylor also stressed that EA faculty members push to bring out the best of students in the classroom.
“Anytime I need help or can’t understand something, they take the time to help and encourage,” Taylor stated.
For the standout athlete, the future is bright, but he mentioned that leaving his teammates behind will be a tough transition.
“We are family,” Taylor said. “I have played with many of these guys since my 10th-grade year. We have built so much chemistry together, so it is going to be a huge change.”
For any head coach, seeing a star athlete and person leave can be a heart-wrenching situation, and this is no exception for Smith.
“For any coach that truly cares about what they do, it’s hard,” he said. “You get attached to these kids. You want to see them succeed and you want the best for them as they depart. The truth, however, is that you lose part of yourself. The upside is that you get to witness the greatness that they will achieve in this world.”
Smith also stressed that sports teaches players more than how to win on the field, such as lessons that are needed in every aspect of life.
“The lessons that athletics offer us are often overlooked,” Smith stated. “In order to succeed in the sports world, self-discipline and drive are just a few of the lessons that every athlete learns. Those lesson and traits are needed in everyday life to succeed. Taylor has grasped those lessons and I have no doubt he will be successful.”
Fountain stated that Taylor always gives 110 percent of himself in everything that he does and has been a shining star for EA.
For Taylor, helping lead the Cougars to another basketball state championship is the number-one target on his radar over the next week.
“My plan is to leave it all on the court,” Taylor said. “We will stick to whatever game plan Coach Smith has set and do our best to come out with a big win for our school. We have a job to finish and we plan to complete that task.”
The Cougars were scheduled at the time of publication deadlines to meet Lowndes Academy in the AISA Elite 8, Class AA Quarter Finals at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery on Tuesday, February 11, at 1:30 p.m. Details and a full story on that contest will be featured in next week’s edition of Atmore News.
Girls end season
The Lady Cougars fell 47-15 to South Choctaw Academy during the first round of Elite 8 play last Tuesday, February 4, thus ending their season.