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Eagles now have Grace; next they need wins

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
W.S. Neal Blue Eagles coach Robbie Grace will be the first to admit the upcoming season is a mystery to him.
That part is O.K. Grace is a mystery to Blue Eagles during the early days of his coaching regime with the program.
Grace is the latest face to swing through the revolving door known as the program's head coaching position. Grace, who is the program's fourth head coach in as many years, will try to do what his predecessors have been unable to do, which is get the Blue Eagles headed in the right direction.
A year ago W.S. Neal limped across the finish line with a 5-22 record under David McCollum's direction. Three of those wins came in the final week of the regular season.
Grace, who had most recently been at Oneonta High School, has not coached basketball since the 2001-02 school year when he served as a freshmen coach at McAdore High School. Grace, who spent two years at McAdore, served as the head coach at Warrior Academy in Eutaw prior to his stint at McAdore.
The W.S. Neal coach said he is trying to keep his schemes simple during the early stages of the season.
While the Blue Eagles roster is loaded with seniors (nine), the amount of experience it actually returns is limited.
The point guard spot will probably be a rotation of B.J. McMillian, a 6-0 senior, Sylvester Madison, a 5-11 senior, and newcomer Marquis Barksdale, a 5-10 junior.
Cecil Thomas, a 6-0 senior, is probably targeted for the shooting guard role.
Grace anticipates running a three-guard offense, especially early in the year. Jonathan Alexander, a 5-11 junior, will probably fall into the role of that third guard.
Ronald Travis, a 5-9 senior, and Rohin Travis, a 6-0 senior, are both returning forwards. They will probably be used in a similar role this year.
Grace thinks W.S. Neal's post game will get a boost with the addition of Jake Bailey, a 6-0 senior.
Justin Howard, a 6-1 junior, is another new face to the Blue Eagles inside game.
Randy Rutledge, a 6-3 senior, Cody Green, a 6-3 senior, Blake Bradley, a 6-1 junior, and Sherman Sanders, a 6-3 senior, are also in the picture for some varsity minutes in the post area.
Grace admits it is important for his team to have some success early in the season.
W.S. Neal Blue Eagles Basketball Schedule
Nov. 22 McKenzie Home 5 p.m.
Nov. 28 Flomaton Home 5 p.m.
Nov. 29 Pleasant Home Away 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 Frisco City Home 5 p.m.
Dec. 8-10 Escambia County Tournament at Flomaton
Dec. 12 J.U. Blacksher Away 5 p.m.
Dec. 13 Georgiana Home 5 p.m.
Dec. 19-23 Florala Tournament
Jan. 5 Northview (Fla.) Away 5 p.m.
Jan. 6 Clarke County Home 5 p.m.
Jan. 10 T.R. Miller Away 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 Clarke County Away 5 p.m.
Jan. 13 Straughn Away 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 Northview (Fla.) Home 5 p.m.
Jan. 19 J.U. Blacksher Home 5 p.m.
Jan. 20 T.R. Miller Home 5 p.m.
Jan. 23 McKenzie Away 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 Straughn Home 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 Frisco City Away 5 p.m.
Jan. 30 Georgiana Away 5 p.m.
Jan. 31 Pleasant Home Home 5 p.m.
Feb. 3 Flomaton Away 5 p.m.