Knights lose by one to Evangel

MONTGOMERY | Despite a difficult day complete with missed opportunities, tough shooting and turnovers, Tuscaloosa Academy had what it wanted trailing by a point in the last seconds — the ball and a chance to advance.

But the Knights were unable to take a shot in the final 11 seconds and lost to the two-time AISA champion Evangel Christian, 36-35, in the Elite Eight round at Huntingdon College on Friday.

"Our kids fought hard to get back in the game," TA coach William Johnson said. "We knew it would be a tough, grind-it-out game. We had our chance at the end."

The Knights (20-10) trailed for most of the game and by as much as eight points in the first half. They cut the Evangel lead to a point on two different occasions only to see the Lions push the lead back to seven points early in the fourth quarter.

TA got to within three on a steal and layup by Sam Brown with 6:46 to go in the game. Later, a 3-pointer from Torrence Brown cut the Evangel lead to a single point, 34-33, with 2:21 left.

VaDaul Benson’s steal and layup gave Evangel a three-point lead with just over a minute to go. But the Lions were unable to convert at the free throw line, missing the front end of a one-and-one on two different occasions. The final miss by Benson came with 11 seconds remaining.

TA cleared the rebound and called a timeout to set the play. But the Knights were unable to take a shot after the final pass was bobbled.

"We were trying to get a high-low set for (Torrence Brown) but we didn’t handle the ball very well," Johnson said. "We hit some big shots late. We got a 3-pointer to close within a point. We made some plays as I knew we would. We just couldn’t get that last one."

Both teams suffered from turnovers but the Knights seemingly had them when they hurt the most. Trailing by three points midway through the fourth quarter, TA had turnovers on back-to-back possessions. Another turnover allowed for an Evangel layup with 2:45 remaining.

Evangel suffered from the same fate and was unable to handle the TA man-to-man defense in the last stages of the game.

"Their defense made it tough but I knew it would," Evangel coach Kerwin Washington said. "We tried to set up a delay in the fourth quarter but they did a good job of extending their defense. We tried to penetrate but they played off their man very well."

Pride Snow led TA with 13 points. Torrence Brown added 10. Evangel was led by Jay Grice with 17 points.

Evangel (19-8) advances to the Final Four where it will face Lee-Scott next week.