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Neal pulls out win against J.U. Blacksher

By By SCOTT COOPER – Sports Writer
Over the past week's basketball action, the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles handled J.U. Blacksher before losing decisively to the Hillcrest Jaguars and Pensacola Catholic Crusaders.
Heading into the final weekend of regular-season play, the Blue Eagles' record stands at 6-18.
W.S. Neal 62, J.U. Blacksher 54
The Blue Eagles hosted J.U. Blacksher on Jan. 23 and never trailed after jumping on top from the opening tip.
Racing out to a 21-9 lead at the end of the first period, Neal maintained control of the game's momentum in the second quarter to enter halftime up by 10, 34-24.
Blacksher made a bit of a run at the beginning of the third period, but the Blue Eagles never were seriously threatened. Continuing to lead by eight points, 44-36, heading to the fourth quarter, the Blue Eagles kept Blacksher at bay to post a 62-54 win.
Leading scorers for the Blue Eagles were Nick Benjamin with 15 points and J.J. Pitts with 10 points.
Hillcrest 63, W.S. Neal 35
A Jan. 24 contest in Evergreen against the Hillcrest Jaguars saw the Blue Eagles played the Class 4A eighth-ranked hosts tough for a half before fading over the final two quarters and returning with a 63-35 loss.
In a half-court battle that took place in the opening quarter, Neal played well on both ends of the floor to close out the period holding a 12-8 lead.
Hillcrest (22-6) got things going on the offensive end in the second period and outscored the Blue Eagles 19-6 to enter intermission up by nine points, 27-18.
The second half was all Hillcrest as the Jaguars opened a 45-27 advantage at the end of the third quarter before ending the game in possession of a 28-point victory.
Keith Woods scored 13 points to pace the Blue Eagles.
Pensacola Catholic 62, W.S. Neal 32
Seeking revenge for a loss suffered to the Blue Eagles earlier in the season, the Pensacola Catholic Crusaders entertained Neal on Jan. 28 and dominated from start to finish in a 62-32 win.
After the Blue Eagles came out of the blocks slowly, the Crusaders built a substantial first-quarter lead at 12-2 before further adding to the leading total, 22-8, by halftime.
Although Neal made a couple of runs in the third period, the Crusaders' lead continued escalating as the second half wore on. An 18-point advantage at the end of the third quarter was stretched to 30 points by game's end.
Nick Benjamin's eight points led the Blue Eagle offense.