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Shooting woes, losses continue for Blue Eagles

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It may be a different year, but the same things that plagued the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles in the 2003 portion of their schedule bit them again in their first game of 2004 Friday when they fell to the Northview (Fla.) Chiefs 65-37 in the T.R. Miller Holiday Tournament consolation semifinals.
The biggest item on the list is the Blue Eagles' shooting woes.
W.S. Neal (0-8) hit just 19 percent from the field (12-for-61). It was even worse in the first half when the Blue Eagles connected on only five of 32 shots for a mere 16 percent.
"When you can't shoot, you can't score. When you can't score, there isn't a whole lot you can do," W.S. Neal coach Tom Lawler said.
The Blue Eagles' best chance for a win this season came back on December 8 when it lost at home to the Chiefs 65-62. In that game, Northview led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter before a big W.S. Neal rally fell short.
The Chiefs (3-8) would again get off to a big lead in Friday's rematch. This time there would be no comeback.
Northview scored the game's first seven points and never trailed. The Blue Eagles had a brief first quarter surge, as buckets by Jonathan Alexander, Marcus Folmar and Chris Johnson trimmed the gap to 9-6 midway through the frame.
Over the next nine minutes W.S. Neal did not make a field goal and hit just one free throw in that span.
Thanks to a pair of hoops and a free throw by Jarrod Brown, Northview closed out the first quarter on a 10-1 run and a 19-7 lead.
The Chiefs began the second period on a 14-0 run that knocked the cushion all the way up to 33-7. Phillip Eubanks, who had a team high 14 points, sparked that surge with a pair of buckets and three free throws.
A bucket plus a three-pointer by Matt Hulley in the final three minutes of the first half ended W.S. Neal's field goal drought, but Northview still led 35-12 at half-time.
That advantage continued to grow in the third quarter and reached 52-20 by the end of the frame. The Chiefs posted their biggest lead halfway into the fourth quarter when two free throws by Wesley Maughen made it 61-29.
Folmar and Hulley accounted for 27 of W.S. Neal's 37 points with 17 and 10 respectively.
At T.R. Miller
W.S. Neal 7 5 8 17 – 37
Northview 19 16 17 13 – 65
NORTHVIEW (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Eubanks 5-0-4-14; Brown 5-0-3-13; Whatley 5-0-0-10; Maughen 3-0-3-9; Allen 1-1-1-6; Cook 3-0-0-6; Romine 1-0-2-4; Faulk 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 24-1-14-65)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Folmar 4-1-6-17; Hulley 2-2-0-10; Chancery 0-1-0-3; Johnson 1-0-0-2; Alexander 1-0-0-2; Dexter 0-0-1-1; Freeman 0-0-1-1; Burch 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 8-4-9-37)
Tuesday's game
A 15-day layoff did not help the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles break into the victory column, as they were bounced in Tuesday's opening round by the West Florida Jaguars 81-56.
West Florida (2-5) used a 23-3 run in the second quarter and led by as many as 25 points in the first half en route to the win.
While the Blue Eagles were unable to shut down West Florida on the defensve side, their offense also had its share of struggles. W.S. Neal hit just three of 14 shots in the first quarter and only six of 25 for 24 percent in the first half.
Prior to the big surge by the Jaguars, W.S. Neal was able to stay within striking distance.
An offensive rebound basket by Cory Freeman 30 seconds into the second quarter trimmed the Jaguars' advantage to just 14-11. That lead was only 18-13 a minute later after Marcus Folmar got inside the lane and scored.
The bottom dropped out on W.S. Neal over the final six minutes of the first half. It began with an 11-0 run that was sparked by a three-pointer and two free throws Charles Butler. That quickly took West Florida's cushion to 29-13.
A three-pointer by W.S. Neal's Cecil Thomas broke that run, but the Jaguars answered with a 12-0 blitz that swelled the gap to 41-16. Wil DuPont ignited that run for West Florida with a three-pointer, a two-point field goal and a pair of free throws. DuPont had nine total points in the frame.
Down 41-18 at half-time, the Blue Eagles tried to get back in the game in the second half with a full-court press. That strategy produced mixed results.
On the plus side, the Blue Eagles more than doubled their first half offensive total in the third quarter. On the down side, W.S. Neal was not able to make enough defensive stops to sustain a long run.
The closest W.S. Neal got was when a bucket by Folmar, a three-pointer by Matt Hulley and a hoop by Jonathan Alexander made it 50-34 halfway through the third quarter.
By the time the frame ended West Florida had regained the momentum and a 20-point plus margin of lead at 64-43.
At T.R. Miller
W.S. Neal 9 9 25 13 – 56
West Florida 14 27 23 17 – 81
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Folmar 5-1-2-15; Thomas 2-2-2-12; Alexander 3-0-2-8; Johnson 2-0-2-6; Hulley 1-1-0-5; Dexter 1-0-2-4; Freeman 2-0-0-4; Hester 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 16-4-12-56)
WEST FLORIDA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Butler 2-3-2-15; DuPont 3-2-2-14; Rembert 5-0-1-11; King 4-0-1-9; Haul 1-0-5-7; McKibben 0-2-0-6; Lutley 1-1-0-5; Gaghen 2-0-0-4; Austin 2-0-0-4; Higdon 1-0-1-3; Smith 1-0-0-2; Jordan 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 22-8-13-81)