By JOSH FRYE
The Escambia County High School Blue Devils varsity boys basketball team closed out the 2021-2022 regular season on a high note Friday, February 4, with a 54-36 victory over Baldwin County High School.
Sheldon Williams led the Blue Devils with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. Stephen Williams gained 7 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. Conner McPherson added 6 points, 1 rebound and 3 steals. Hakeem Johnson gained 5 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal. Jacob Dirden earned 2 points and had 2 rebounds. Kaiden Arnold also earned 9 points and 2 rebounds. Lacarlos Thomas contributed 2 points and 1 rebound.
With the win, the Blue Devils close out the season with a 23-4 overall record and 7-1 area record. According to ECHS varsity head coach Layton Knight, the Blue Devils are eager to advance in post-season play later this week for a chance to make a Class 4A state championship run.
“The boys are eager,” Knight said. “They are eager to play and eager to advance to the next round. However, your season can now end at any time. One loss and you’re home. The guys will start this week by practicing hard. We are ready to hit the court on Thursday and hopefully we will be able to win and continue on. I am proud of these guys.”
The Blue Devils will now face round one of the 2022 AHSAA Class 4A Area 1 Basketball Tournament which will be played in Atmore this Thursday at 7 p.m. against either Vigor or W.S. Neal, whose game was slated to be played on Tuesday night (February 8), after Atmore News’ press deadline. If ECHS wins Thursday’s game against Vigor, the Blue Devils will then advance to play for the Class 4A Area 1 Championship this Saturday (February 12) at 6 p.m. in Atmore against Williamson or St. Michael Catholic.
For the Lady Blue Devils, the season also ended against Baldwin County High School last Friday, February 4, but with a 53-47 loss against Baldwin County.
With the loss, the Lady Blue Devils close out regular season play with an overall record of 20-5. According to girls’ head coach Keyon Thompson, the Lady Blue Devils played a tough game against the Tigers and showed a lot of grit, but fell to the mercy of the short end of some tough official calls.
“We had some tough calls against us,” Thompson said. “However, we have to learn to fight against that. We are eager to play within the Class 4A Area 1 State Tournament this week. We need to buckle down and get back to work. We, of course, need this win.”
ECHS’s Jayla Adams led scoring against Baldwin County last Friday with 20 points. C’Anna Betts followed with 16 points, Timia Gaines had 6 points, Makayla Lyons earned 4 points and Zahria McCants gained 2 points.
The ECHS girls will face off against Vigor this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Williamson High School during the 2022 AHSAA Class 4A Area 1 Girls Basketball Tournament. In order to advance and have a shot at the Class 4A Area 1 Championship, the Lady Blue Devils will have to dig deep and find a way to beat Vigor. If ECHS is successful, they will advance to play Williamson, St. Michael Catholic or W.S. Neal in the Class 4A Area 1 Championship Final this Friday, February 11, at 6 p.m. at Williamson High.