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Lady Eagles prove to be pesky foe despite setback to Hillcrest

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
True, it was a loss. In fact, it was the fifth straight for the W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles and dropped their season record to 2-9.
Yet it was the fight and desire the Lady Blue Eagles showed in Saturday's 49-34 home loss to the Hillcrest Lady Jaguars that could help turn their season around.
W.S. Neal appeared to be headed for a long night when Hillcrest (5-15) hit four three-pointers (two by Denise Davis and one each by Ebony Nelson and Shannon Rudolph) in the first six minutes of the game and built a 14-5 lead.
Tierra Andrews gave the Lady Blue Eagles a much needed spark at the end of the first quarter when she turned a steal into a layup that cut Hillcrest's lead to 14-8.
Although the Lady Jaguars regained their original nine-point lead early in the second quarter, W.S. Neal battled back again.
Carolyn Marshall hit a three-pointer and added a free throw, Lillian Fantroy connected on two charity tosses and Timaya Nolan hit a free throw. Nolan's charity toss cut Hillcrest's lead to just 19-17 headed into the final minute of the first half.
W.S. Neal could have been even closer than its 22-18 deficit at half-time had it shot better from the free throw line in the second quarter where it was just four-for-11.
Rhonda Bradley's field goal in the first minute of the third quarter once again got the Lady Blue Eagles within a bucket at 22-20, but W.S. Neal would get no closer.
A three-point play by Rudolph and a three-pointer by Kassandra Dees sparked Hillcrest on a 10-2 run that bumped the Lady Jaguars' advantage into double digits at 32-22.
Despite Hillcrest's run, W.S. Neal still managed to stay within striking distance most of the remainder of the game. Fantroy's offensive rebound bucket at the third quarter horn moved the Lady Blue Eagles within 34-27. A basket by Marshall with just under three minutes to go had the Hillcrest lead at only 40-32.
In the final two minutes, Hillcrest secured its win with a 9-0 run thanks to seven free throws and a bucket by Candi Jackson.
W.S. Neal was able to stay close most of the game despite the fact it had a staggering 45 turnovers. The Lady Blue Eagles were able to offset some of that in rebounding where they had a strong 42-27 advantage on the boards.
Andrews led the Lady Blue Eagles with 10 points.
W.S. Neal, which hosted T.R. Miller Tuesday, travels to J.U. Blacksher Thursday. McKenzie will pay the Lady Blue Eagles a visit Friday.
At W.S. Neal
Hillcrest 14 8 12 15 – 49
W.S. Neal 8 10 9 7 – 34
HILLCREST (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jackson 4-1-3-14; Nelson 4-0-4-12; Dees 1-2-1-9; Davis 0-3-0-9; Rudolph 1-0-1-3; Simpson 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 10-6-11-49)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Andrews 4-0-2-10; Nolan 2-0-4-8; C. Marshall 1-1-2-7; Fantroy 2-0-3-7; Bradley 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 10-1-11-34)
Friday's game
W.S. Neal's defense held Escambia County in check in three of the four quarters, but a third quarter surge enabled the Lady Blue Devils to pull away for a 41-17 triumph at Atmore Friday.
Escambia County built a 9-2 lead through one period and extended it to 17-8 at half-time. The third quarter proved to be W.S. Neal's downfall, as the Lady Blue Devils went on an 18-3 run to increase its cushion to 35-11.
Carolyn Marshall paced the Lady Blue Eagles with five points, while Jessica Smith added three.
At Escambia County
W.S. Neal 2 6 3 6 – 17
Escambia County 9 8 18 6 – 41
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) C. Marshall 1-1-0-5; Smith 1-0-1-3; Fantroy 1-0-0-2; Nolan 1-0-0-2; Andrews Tagudar 1-0-0-2; L. Marshall 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 6-1-2-17)
ESCAMBIA COUNTY (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Lett 5-0-0-10; Sanders 4-0-0-8; Taylor 2-0-2-6; Lee 3-0-0-6; Packer 1-0-0-2; McWilliams 1-0-0-2; McCall1 -0-0-2; Lee 1-0-0-2; White 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 19-0-3-41)