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Blue Eagles lose to Bulldogs in first area game

By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles traveled to Grove Hill on Dec. 6 for their first Area-1 game of the season against the Bulldogs of Clarke County.
After a close opening quarter, the Blue Eagles fell behind in the second quarter and never recovered in a 64-52 loss that dropped their season record to 0-4.
Neal began the first period playing a tight man-to-man defense while Clarke County opened in a matchup zone. With each team trading baskets with the other, the quarter was evenly played. But, the Bulldogs managed to gain the upper hand at 17-13 as the period came to a close.
Clarke County's domination of the second quarter proved to be the difference in the game. While the Blue Eagles suffered unforced turnovers and missed foul shots, the Bulldogs went on a 20-8 run that allowed them to enter the halftime break holding a comfortable 37-21 advantage.
Adopting a half-court press defensive strategy to begin the third quarter, Neal began to force the Bulldogs into mistakes. The tactic was responsible for the Blue Eagles outscoring the host team 14-10 in the period and reducing the deficit to 47-35 heading to the fourth quarter.
The final stanza was played to a 17-17 deadlock. However, that was all Clarke County needed to exit with a 12-point win that placed Neal at 0-1 against area competition.
Nick Benjamin led the Blue Eagles with 19 points.