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Fourth quarter rally by Eagles falls short

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
One could hardly blame those in attendance for leaving Monday's game at W.S. Neal after the third quarter. With the home team down 22 points, it seemed about the only thing to be determined was the final score.
Those who left missed one of the more frantic finishes in school history. While the Blue Eagles' huge rally fell short in a 65-62 loss to the Northview (Fla.) Chiefs, their fourth quarter effort may give them something to build on the rest of the season.
"We tried the same things with our pressure defense that we used in Friday's game (against Clarke County). That kind of play can work two ways. Friday's game got away from us. This one we gave ourselves a chance to win," W.S. Neal coach Tom Lawler said.
Perhaps a puzzling thing about W.S. Neal's great fourth quarter rally was it followed a third quarter where virtually everything went wrong.
Northview (2-2) began the second half on an 18-4 run that turned a 30-24 half-time lead into a 20-point cushion of 48-28. That margin grew to 52-30 by the time the period ended.
The Chiefs were able to build much of that cushion through their transition game. Jared Brown led that charge with three fastbreak buckets plus a three-pointer in the quarter. Wesley Moughn was also a contributor to that run with a trio of buckets.
Northview's lead actually reached a game high margin of 23 points when Courtney Whatley's three-pointer a minute into the fourth quarter made it 55-32.
At that point the Blue Eagles (0-2) turned up the defensive pressure and their full-court press resulted in 11 Northview turnovers.
On the offensive side, senior guard Marcus Folmar, who had 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, began W.S. Neal's comeback with a three-pointer.
That was the first of eight points Folmar would score over the next minute, which dropped the Chiefs' advantage to 57-41.
That lead melted some more over the next two minutes, as a pair of free throws by Matt Hulley and Jeremy Burch's three-pointer and two free throws reduced Northview's lead to 59-49.
Folmar and Burch both hit three-pointers over the next minute and suddenly W.S. Neal had cut the lead to just four points at 61-57 with three minutes left.
That lead dropped to just two points when Folmar drove to the basket and scored with 2:51 left to make it 61-59. It was reduced to just a point when Folmar picked up a loose ball near the Blue Eagles basket and scored to make it 63-62 with 1:20 left.
W.S. Neal had a chance to take the lead with 50 seconds to go, but Hulley missed a three-pointer.
Northview left the door open at the free throw line where it missed seven attempts in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs did hit two charity tosses, one each by Brown and Moughn, over the next 40 seconds to stretch Northview's lead to 65-62.
The Blue Eagles had a chance to tie the game in the closing moments, but Burch came up short on an offbalanced three-point attempt just before the final horn.
Ironically it was Burch's perimeter shooting that kept W.S. Neal close in the first half. Burch hit a pair of three-pointers and added another bucket from inside the arc in the first quarter to help the Blue Eagles take a 14-13 lead.
Burch added another trey in the second quarter along with Folmar, but Northview went on a 17-10 run to take a 30-24 halftime lead.
W.S. Neal's junior varsity evened its season record at 1-1 with a 40-29 victory. The Blue Eagles received 15 points from Jonathan Alexander and 13 more from Cecil Thomas.
W.S. Neal will host the Escambia Tournament, which gets underway Thursday. The Eagles will play Flomaton Thursday at 8 p.m., T.R. Miller Friday at 8 p.m. and Escambia County Saturday at 8 p.m.
At W.S.Neal
Northview 13 17 22 13 – 65
W.S. Neal 14 10 6 32 – 62
NORTHVIEW (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Brown 6-1-6-21; Allen 6-1-1-16; Romine 5-0-0-10; Moughn 4-0-1-9; Whatley 2-1-1-8; Scott 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 23-3-10-65)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Folmar 12-1-1-28; Burch 1-5-2-19; Freeman 4-0-0-8; Hulley 1-0-3-5; Cooper 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 19-6-6-62)