Late surge lifts Devils past TRM for EC title
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
The Escambia County Tournament championship trophy will get to stay at its namesake school for a third straight year after the Blue Devils overcame the T.R. Miller Tigers in the fourth quarter for a 49-40 victory in Saturday's championship game at Flomaton.
It marked the second straight year the Tigers were forced to settle for runner-up status in the tournament.
Meanwhile Flomaton broke into the win column for the first time this season and avenged an earlier loss to W.S. Neal with a 62-54 win over the Blue Eagles in Saturday's third place game.
Escambia County 49,
T.R. Miller 40
The Blue Devils beat T.R. Miller 68-48 in the Tigers' season opener last month, but T.R. Miller did not have all of its pieces available due to the football playoffs.
The Tigers' defense did its part to give T.R. Miller a chance to pull out the victory by holding Escambia County scoreless from the perimeter. The Blue Devils hit nine three-pointers in the first meeting.
The Blue Devils (8-1) threatened to pull away in the first half, as three buckets by Quartez James and two more by Calvin Hartley sparked Escambia County to a 14-5 lead two minutes into the second quarter.
T.R. Miller (4-3), which hit just one field goal in the first 10 minutes, finally started to get its offense on track with consecutive buckets by Terrence Walker, Laine Lucas and Jordan Knight to pull within 14-11.
Escambia County extended that advantage to 22-17 by halftime and back up to its game high bulge of nine points at 28-19 on a bucket by Taylor two minutes into the third quarter.
Over the next seven minutes T.R. Miller was able to give itself an opportunity to make a move by holding the Blue Devils to just one field goal and four points.
The Tigers narrowed the lead all the way down to 32-31 when Knight scored in the final minute of the third quarter. T.R. Miller then took its only lead of the game 19 seconds into the fourth quarter when Corey Cunningham scored from down low to put the Tigers up 33-32.
Over the next seven minutes T.R. Miller turned the ball over seven times, did not make a field goal and scored just two points.
Although Escambia County also had some trouble down the stretch with six fourth quarter turnovers, five Blue Devils combined for a decisive 15-2 run that put Escambia County up 47-35.
T.R. Miller 5 12 14 9 – 40
Escambia Co. 10 12 10 17 – 49
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jo. Knight 5-2-1-176; Walker 2-0-2-6; Lucas 3-0-0-6; Andrews 1-0-3-5; Cunningham 1-0-0-2; Powell 1-0-0-2; Stallworth 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-2-8-40)
ESCAMBIA COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Taylor 7-0-3-17; James 5-0-3-13; Andrews 4-0-1-9; Hartley 3-0-2-8; Frye 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 20-0-9-49)
Flomaton 62, W.S. Neal 54
The Hurricanes used a sizzling display from three-point land en route to a 21-point first half lead and needed most of that cushion to fend off a furious rally by
the Blue Eagles in the second half.
Flomaton (1-9) hit nine of its first 10 three-point attempts, which include five straight by Clay Simpson. Scott Walton added a pair from behind the arc and both Tony Ellis and Dee Brooks also had a three-pointer during the torrid stretch.
Simpson had two of his treys and eight total points in the first quarter when the Hurricanes, who had lost to WS. Neal 57-42 12 days earlier, built a 22-12 lead.
Simpson, Walton and Brooks then began the second quarter with consecutive three-pointers that quickly knocked the lead up to 31-12.
W.S. Neal, which trailed 43-32 at halftime, cut a big chunk off that deficit in the third quarter. Led by three buckets and a three-pointer by Cecil Thomas, the Blue Eagles went on a 15-6 run and cut the gap to 49-37.
W.S. Neal continued to turn up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter where it forced the Hurricanes, who did not hit another three-pointer after the nine they buried in the first half, into 10 turnovers.
The Blue Eagles scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter and pulled within 49-45 on Cody Green's free throw with 6:02 left.
It would not be until the final minute before W.S. Neal could get any closer when B.J. McMillian's three-pointer with 34 seconds left trimmed the Hurricanes' lead to 57-54.
Flomaton, which hit 11 of 14 free throw attempts for the game, put the game away from the free throw line in the final minute where it hit seven of eight attempts. That included a string of six straight by Simpson and Brooks.
Flomaton 22 21 6 13 – 62
W.S. Neal 12 10 15 17 – 54
FLOMATON (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Walton 3-2-7-19; Simpson 1-5-0-17; Ellis 4-1-0-11; Brooks 0-1-3-6; Lewis 2-0-0-4; Turner 1-0-0-2; Woods 1-0-0-2; Hawsey 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 12-9-11-62)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Thomas 4-3-1-18; McMillian 2-2-2-12; Alexander 4-0-1-9; Bailey 3-0-1-7; Sanders 1-0-1-3; Green 1-0-1-3; Barksdale 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 15-5-9-54)