EA fights with Chambers and falls in Final 4 on Friday

MONTGOMERY — Escambia Academy fought to the bitter end Friday night, losing 34-33 to Chambers Academy in an AISA Class 2A Final 4 contest at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex.

A close game throughout the last drink, the semi-final match had some lead changes. Neither team led by more than single digits during the 32-minute game.

However, a lot happened in the last 54.4 seconds.

Escambia Academy starters Landon Sims and Bubba Nettles fouled and the Cougars kept it close, but the Rebels made a few final free throws and held off in the end.

EA boys coach Willie White Jr. said the team played well despite late foul issues.

“It’s a testament to the guys,” White said. “We were just trying to hold on.

“They played us hard,” he said of CA. “We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. The game came out that way.

With 54.4 seconds left, EA’s Charlie Sasser was fouled after Brian Brown got a steal. Sasser made the one-and-one to give the Cougars a 33-32 lead.

After an EA timeout, Maliki Haynes got a defensive block with about 34 seconds left, and the Cougars called another timeout to regroup.

Off the inbounds, EA managed to commit a turnover, and the Rebels called a quick timeout with 27.9 seconds left.

Chambers guard Cayden Hayley then made the one-and-one with 18.2 seconds left to make the game-winning buckets.

EA had a chance with 2.1 seconds left after Haynes dove on the ball and injured himself as a result.

White said during the last minute that they were trying to stop.

“We were going to try to ice it and play stall,” he said. “We ended up throwing it away (revenues).”

The Cougars led 26-24 going into the fourth period.

Hayley got a turnover jumper to tie the game. Less than a minute later and after Sims fouled, Chamber’s Jordan Whaley made it 3 points to come up by three with about 4 minutes left.

Sasser then added a 3-pointer for the tie, and Chris Long got a steal with 3:36 to go.

On a timeout, Hayley got a jumper to go, and Sasser tied the game again with a pair of free shots.

CA took a 7-0 lead in the first period, but the Cougars fought back to take a 9-7 lead early in the second.

The Cougars led 11-17 on a Nettles drive to the basket, then 14-7 after a Sims 3-pointer.

EA led 16-12 at the break.

The Sims led EA with 14 points; Nettles added eight; and Sasser had seven.

Whaley led CA with 15 points and Hayley added 10 in the win.

During the season, White said he was proud of the team for the way they competed.

“It was quite an achievement for us,” he said. “Nobody gave us a chance. We had even less talent than last year.

“I was proud of some of the football players who came to help us who never played a basketball game in their life,” he said.

EA finished its season 14-6.

Chambers advances to face Autauga Academy on Monday in the state championship game.

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