Blue Devils end season with 2-point Sweet 16 setback

News Staff Writer

Despite a concerted effort by senior Stephen Williams and sophomore Cleo Bolar Jr., Escambia County High’s Blue Devils came up 2 points short in their quest for this year’s AHSAA Class 4A boys basketball title.
ECHS, last year’s state runner-up, fell to top-ranked Jackson three times during the regular season (the last two by 18 points each), but almost pulled off what would have been one of the biggest upsets in the AHSAA postseason tournament.
Instead, the Aggies (now 28-2) scored a basket with 55 seconds left to erase an 8-point lead the Blue Devils carried into the final period. Jackson missed a pair of free throws in the closing seconds, then withstood a desperation Hail Mary shot that could have won the contest.
Jackson left the court at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum with a 37-35 win and the South Regional championship.
Williams, ECHS’s standout center, closed his high school career with another fine game. The 6-9 senior struck for 16 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked 8 shots. Bolar scored 14 points, grabbed 8 boards and came up with 3 steals for the Blue Devils, who finished at 17-10.
The Atmore team built a seemingly insurmountable 29-21 lead after three quarters and led 31-24 with five minutes remaining, but Jackson turned the game around with a 12-2 run.
The score was tied seven times; the lead changed six times, and both teams hit 14 field goals and two 3-pointers. The Blue Devils were 5-of-7 from the foul line, while Jackson connected on just 7-of-21 free throws.
The Aggies advanced into state semifinals action, where they were to meet 29-4 Anniston at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27.