Bulldogs run away from Neal in opener
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
If there was one advantage W.S. Neal had in facing one of the areas better programs, the Clarke County Bulldogs, in its season opener, it exposed the areas where the Blue Eagles need to improve.
Unfortunately for W.S. Neal that is probably a lengthy list after the Bulldogs rolled to an 85-48 victory in East Brewton Friday.
Probably two of the things at or near the top of the list are transition defense and taking care of the ball.
Clarke County forced the Blue Eagles into 24 turnovers and several of those miscues led to baskets on the other end.
"We had a tough time against their press. If we don't take better care of the ball, it will be that way every night," W.S. Neal coach Tom Lawler said. "We didn't do a good job of getting back on defense. They were faster and quicker than we were."
The Bulldogs began the game with back-to-back three-pointers by Ben Burroughs and never trailed in the contest. However, W.S. Neal stayed within striking distance most of the first half.
The closest point came after a pair of free throws and a hoop by Marcus Folmar and a field goal by Jeremy Burch brought the Blue Eagles within 7-6 five minutes into the game.
Another basket by Burroughs from the wing and a steal and layup by Rod Davis gave Clarke County a five-point edge of 11-6. It would maintain that margin of lead at 15-10 through one quarter.
A key moment of the first half and perhaps the game came two minutes into the second quarter. With Clarke County up 15-11, Davis hit a three-pointer and was fouled on the play. He made the free throw to complete the rare four-point play and double the Bulldogs' cushion to 19-11.
Enzer Williams followed with a free throw and a field goal and Ranell Armstrong added a hoop to complete a 9-0 run. Just like that Clarke County's lead had grown to 24-11.
Joe Smith's steal and layup with 24 seconds left in the second quarter gave Clarke County its biggest advantage of the first half at 37-20.
W.S. Neal made one final charge at the Bulldogs. It began late in the second quarter when a free throw by Cory Freeman and a hoop by Chris Powell cut the Bulldogs' half-time lead to 37-23.
The Blue Eagles then began the third quarter with a bucket by Folmar and a three-pointer by Burch that cut Clarke County's lead into single digits at 37-28.
A basket by Davis got Clarke County's lead back into double digits and began a 24-8 run over the next five minutes. By the time a field goal by Williams ended that run with a field goal, Clarke Coutny was in firm control with a 61-36 lead.
It would get worse for the Blue Eagles before the night ended. The Bulldogs' lead reached 30 points at 74-44 with two minutes left in the game and it reached 40 points at 85-45 with 10 seconds left.
W.S. Neal's turnover problem took its toll on the Blue Eagles down the stretch, as 10 of its 24 giveaways occurred over the last 10 minutes.
Burch paced W.S. Neal's attack with 12 points, while Folmar added 11.
The Blue Eagles will try again for their first win Monday when they host Northview (Fla.).
At W.S. Neal
Clarke County 15 22 24 24 – 85
W.S. Neal 10 13 15 10 – 48
CLARKE COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Burroughs 3-3-0-15; Johnson 3-1-1-10; Davis 4-0-2-10; Marris 3-0-3-9; Armstrong 2-1-1-8; Williams 3-0-1-7; Welch 2-1-0-7; Smith 3-0-1-7; Horn 3-0-0-6; McRae 2-0-0-4; Dunnigan 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 28-6-11-85)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Burch 2-2-2-12; Folmar 3-0-5-11; Freeman 3-0-3-9; Dexter 1-1-0-5; Powell 2-0-0-4; Cooper 2-0-0-4; Green 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 14-3-11-48)