0106-Edge Autauga boys

Caleb Turrentine / Tallapoosa Publishers Edgewood’s Austin Champion (10) attempts to drive against Autauga’s Josh Palmer.

It wasn't the prettiest of starts to Thursday's area matchup between Edgewood and Autauga. The two teams combined for just 30 points in the first half and neither coach appeared to be feeling good about his team's performance heading into the locker room.

The lack of offense leaked into the second half before both team's came to life in about midway through the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Autauga's spark came from beyond the arc as a couple of 3-pointers sparked a run to push its lead into double digits and the Generals never looked back, closing out a 55-46 victory on the road.

“It’s an area game so that’s the biggest thing to come out of that,” Edgewood coach Chad Michael said. “But after the game, I told them we have to turn this around. We have a game (Friday) night. We have to let it go and focus on tomorrow.”

Edgewood (5-6, 1-1) entered the night riding a four-game winning streak but the offense couldn't get into a rhythm early on. It took nearly five minutes for the Wildcats to make their first basket, coming from the hands of Joseph Benton with 3:24 to go in the opening quarter.

“It was a lot because of them because of how good they are defensively,” Michael said. “It took some time to adjust to the pace of play they wanted to play. We were able to make some adjustments and calm down and we started getting some better looks.”

Austin Champion took over the scoring for the Wildcats and nearly pushed them into the lead in the third quarter when back-to-back buckets got Edgewood within one point with 2:40 left in the frame. Champion led the team with 22 points but no other player reached double figures as it was clear the Wildcats continue to miss Carson Peevy, who has been out with an injury.

“You cant replace a kid who has been starting for four years,” Michael said. “No one can take his spot. We really miss him defensively because he’s our vocal leader. He was the guy that could slow the game down for everybody else. You miss somebody like that tremendously in every game.”

When its lead was trimmed to just one point, Autauga's offense turned to AJ Perry. In a 63-second span, Perry made two 3-pointers and scored eight of his game-high 23 points to lead a 10-0 run as the Generals grabbed their largest lead of the game heading into the fourth quarter. Michael said that stretch took some of the wind out of Edgewood’s comeback attempt.

“Definitely,” Michael said. “We had some momentum and there was a loose ball, we got on the ground for it so we were out of position. It goes to their best player and he knocks down a 3 then we turn it over and they get layup. You could just see the look on their faces. We worked so hard to get it down to one then it was back to 10 just like that.”

Edgewood continued to battle and knocked the deficit down to just five points with 57 seconds remaining but Perry made five free throws in the final minute to help seal the victory.

“That team is very talented but our kids are confident now we can compete with them,” Michael said. “We are confident going into next week so hopefully we get a chance to play them for an area title next week.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.