Blue Eagles drop three straight in tournament

Published 6:31 am Wednesday, December 18, 2002

By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles found the going rough in the Escambia County Tournament held Dec. 12-14 at Miller Gym.
Neal dropped the tournament opener against Escambia County by a wide margin, but then played eventual champion Miller tough for three quarters before losing. A disappointing performance in the consolation game against Flomaton left the Blue Eagles winless for the tournament and 0-8 on the season.
Escambia County 78, Neal 40
A Dec. 12 opening-round loss against the Escambia County Blue Devils set the tone for the Blue Eagles' tournament.
Neal began the game controlling the pace of play against the athletic Blue Devils and kept the game within reach in the opening half. Trailing by 26-15 at the halftime break, the Blue Eagles looked to cut into the lead with a strong second-half performance.
However, cold shooting and turnovers by the Blue Eagles enabled Escambia County to explode for 32 third-quarter points and effectively put the game out of reach. As the buzzer sounded to signal the game's end, the Blue Devils were owners of a 38-point win.
Nick Benjamin tallied 17 points to lead the Blue Eagles.
Miller 66, Neal 45
The Blue Eagles faced the T.R. Miller Tigers in a Dec. 13 second-round game and gave the eventual tournament champions a run for their money before being overtaken in the final quarter.
Although the opening quarter was a nip-and-tuck affair, the Tigers edged ahead 16-11 as the teams headed to the second period.
Miller's lead was further extended to 34-25 by halftime, but the Blue Eagles continued to stay within reach through the end of the third quarter. Entering the fourth period, Neal trailed by eleven, 47-36.
The Tigers dominated play in the final stanza to put the Blue Eagles away by 21 points.
Offensive leaders for Neal were Keith Woods with 16 points and Nick Benjamin with 13 points.
Flomaton 92, Neal 48
Neal squared off against the Flomaton Hurricanes in the Dec. 14 consolation game.
The Blue Eagles repeated their pattern of the first two games by staging a close battle early only to fade as the game wore on.
A 37-25 Flomaton halftime lead turned into a 65-44 advantage by the end of the third quarter. As the dust settled, the Blue Eagles exited with a 44-point loss.
Marcus Folmar and Keith Woods scored in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.

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