Georgiana spoils McCollum's debut, Blue Eagles opener
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It was the starting point W.S. Neal Blue Eagles coach David McCollum needed in order to see where his team stands and how far it needs to go.
Unfortunately for McCollum and his troops, Monday's 46-34 season-opening home loss to the Georgiana Panthers showed the Blue Eagles they still have some work to do.
"We played hard and our defense wasn't bad, but we have to get better on the offensive end and we will," said McCollum, who had his debut as a high school head coach spoiled.
Shooting and ballhandling woes led to W.S. Neal's downfall. The Blue Eagles shot just 31 percent (13-for-42) from the floor and only 25 percent from the free throw line (six-for-24). W.S. Neal turned the ball over 22 times, which included seven giveaways in its first nine possessions of the game.
"Some of that was first game jitters, some of it was Georgiana and some of it was execution on our part. We had only six assists with the 22 turnovers. We did a pretty good job of getting to the free throw line (24 times), but didn't take advantage. Free throws were a big part of the game," McCollum said.
Johnathan Alexander's fastbreak bucket two minutes into the game gave the Blue Eagles their only lead, 2-0.
Despite its inability to generate offense, W.S. Neal stayed within striking distance until the late stages of the fourth quarter.
Cecil Thomas' three-pointer late in the first quarter had W.S. Neal within 10-9.
Down 20-11 with two minutes left in the first half, W.S. Neal went on a 7-0 run and pulled within 20-18 on a three-pointer by Vernon Sanders.
Georgiana, which also made its season debut Monday, had a 31-22 advantage late in the third quarter.
An offensive rebound hoop by Thomas near the end of the third quarter followed by a free throw by Terrell Sanders and three charity tosses by Thomas early in the fourth quarter cut Georgiana's lead to just 32-28.
The Panthers secured their win with an 8-0 surge over the next three minutes that swelled their cushion to a game high gap of 40-28.
W.S. Neal's junior varsity kicked off its season with a 22-14 victory.
Benjamin McMillan led the Blue Eagles with eight points.
At W.S. Neal
Georgiana 12 10 10 14 – 46
W.S. Neal 9 9 6 10 – 34
GEORGIANA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Peterson 3-2-9-21; P. McMeans 2-0-4-8; Z. McMeans 2-0-1-5; Gray 2-0-0-4; Pleasant 1-0-1-3; Hartin 0-0-2-2; Mathews 0-0-2-2; Nelson 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 10-2-20-46)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Thomas 3-1-3-12; V. Sanders 3-1-1-10; Williamson 2-0-0-4; Ron. Travis 1-0-1-3; Alexander 1-0-0-2; Dexter 1-0-0-2; T. Sanders 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 11-2-6-34)
Georgiana 3 5 6 0 – 14
W.S. Neal 6 3 7 6 – 22
GEORGIANA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Benson 2-0-0-4; Davison 1-0-1-3; Phillips 0-1-0-3; Cheatham 1-0-0-2; Lee 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 5-1-1-14)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) McMillan 4-0-0-8; Wilson 2-0-1-5; Barnes 1-1-0-5; Lambert 1-0-0-2; McCreary 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 9-1-1-22)