Blue Devils advance to Class 4A South Regional semifinals

News Staff Writer

Escambia County High’s boys basketball team continued to pick up steam last weekend, knocking off Bullock County by a 51-42 score in AHSAA Class 4A South Subregionals action on Saturday, February 10, and advancing into the South Regional semifinals.
Cleo Bolar Jr. scored 20 points to help lead the way for the Blue Devils. According to the AHSAA website, ECHS will meet UMS-Wright in a semifinals showdown on Monday, February 19. The local squad defeated the Bulldogs in playoff action last year on the way to a state runner-up finish.
Unconfirmed reports are that the victory makes ECHS’s Layton Knight the first coach in school history to guide his team into 4A South’s “Sweet Sixteen” three years in a row.
In the other February 10 South Subregional quarterfinals games, Jackson beat Booker T. Washington 55-51 and will take on Andalusia, a 68-57 winner over Bayside Academy, in the other semifinal.
The Blue Devils, ranked 8th in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association (ASWA) regular-season poll, made it into the quarterfinals despite a 67-59 setback to Jackson, the state’s top-ranked 4A team, in the Area 2 final.
ECHS hung tough with the Aggies over the first two periods but saw their deficit steadily increase in the second half of the February 5 contest.
The local team faced a 19-6 deficit after the first period but trailed only by a 35-30 margin at halftime. A 15-12 Jackson advantage in the third period provided too much of a lead for the ECHS squad to overcome.
Bolar led ECHS with 12 points, and Tae Henderson scored 9.
The way into that contest was paved by a 54-47 win over T.R. Miller in which Hakeem Johnson scored 17 points, Bolar contributed 15, and Henderson added 12.
Johnson and teammate Stephen Williams, who reportedly drew double-team coverage throughout the area playoffs, were each named to the All-Tournament team.