The Edgewood-Autauga rivalry is going to have one more chapter on the basketball court this season. The Wildcats defeated Lowndes for the third time this season on Thursday night, using a 22-2 run to pull away for the 45-29 victory in the AISA-AA semifinals.
“In the first two games, we had a big quarter to spread things out but the rest of the game was even,” Edgewood coach Darryl Free said. “It was no different tonight because the third quarter was a big quarter for us. They’re a good basketball team, we just got hot and it was enough to carry over for a win.”
After falling behind 14-9 in the second quarter, the Wildcats turned up the pressure on defense to begin their run. Edgewood’s Robert Stewart capped off a quick 9-0 spurt with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the team a 20-15 halftime lead.
The Wildcats held Lowndes without a field goal for the first 6:17 of the second half and extended their lead to 17 points, which did not dip back to single digits the rest of the night.
“We gave it all we had,” Edgewood’s Kaleb Varner said. “We try not to focus on the hype and just play our game. It’s a blessing. We’ve worked hard to be here.”
Edgewood was without forward Jackson Welch, who suffered a knee injury late in the season, and the Wildcats needed to find players to step up in the paint. Varner scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to go alone with three steals and a block.
“With Jackson going down, we told everyone we were going to have to step it up on rebounding and on the defensive side,” Free said. “He stepped up tonight and it allowed us to get out and run in transition.”
Stewart led the Wildcats with 16 points and knocked down three 3-pointers in the game. Edgewood’s defense combined for nine steals and five blocks.
The Wildcats will return to the court on Friday night where a rematch with Autauga awaits. Edgewood defeated Autauga in both regular season games, including an overtime thriller on senior night.
“It’s a game against a crosstown rival for a state championship,” Free said. “You don’t have to say anything else to get them ready to play. Both teams are going to throw everything out the window. It’s going to be fun. We’ve got a one-game season for a state championship.”
The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. on Friday night at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.