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Lady Eagles can't hold on after fast start

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
They provided a tease of what they are capable of doing and what may be in store for them down the road.
The W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles also provided the reminder Rome was not built in one day with their 45-31 season-opening loss to the visiting McKenzie Lady Tigers Tuesday.
New coach Steve Lambert's crew stormed out of the gate to a nine-point lead through one quarter and looked well on its way to ending the 15-game losing streak it finished with last season. Over the last three quarters a combination of turnovers and shooting woes enabled McKenzie to outscore the Lady Blue Eagles 41-18 the rest of the way en route to the win.
Four of the five W.S. Neal starters scored in the opening period when the Lady Blue Eagles raced out to a 13-4 lead thanks to a pair of field goals by Dominique Bailem and Jolesia Likely.
After W.S. Neal hit a respectable six of 14 shots in the first quarter (43 percent), it hit just eight of its next 47 shots (17 percent). The Lady Blue Eagles were especially ineffective from behind the arc where they were just one-for-16 on three-point shots for the game.
The cold shooting combined with eight second quarter turnovers enabled McKenzie to pass the Lady Blue Eagles just before halftime.
W.S. Neal was just two-for-12 from the floor and scored just four points in that second quarter. Meanwhile McKenzie's Lasla Pitts and Carrena Davison both had three field goals to rally the Lady Tigers. Davison's last field goal of the quarter came with a minute left in the first half and moved McKenzie in front for the first time in the game at 18-17.
The Lady Blue Eagles were able to pull even in the opening minute of the third quarter when a basket by Likely tied the game at 19-19, but a three-point play by Pitts put the Lady Tigers back in front, this time to stay.
While it was the inside game that rallied the Lady Tigers, it was the perimeter game that later widened the lead. McKenzie got back-to-back three-pointers from Akeia Owens and Cardis Davison late in the third period that knocked its lead up to 35-26.
A basket by Owens in the opening minute of the fourth quarter took the lead into double digits for the first time at 37-27. That lead would remain in double digits the rest of the way.
W.S. Neal hit just one field goal and scored just three
points over the last 10 minutes until Smith scored at the final buzzer.
W.S. Neal returns to action Monday when it hosts Flomaton at 6 p.m.
At W.S. Neal
McKenzie 4 15 16 10 – 45
W.S. Neal 13 4 10 4 – 31
MCKENZIE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Rudolph 5-0-2-12; Pitts 5-0-1-11; Owens 2-1-2-9; Ca. Davison 1-1-0-5; Co. Davison 2-0-0-4; Bush 1-0-0-2; Ward 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 17-2-5-45)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Smith 4-0-1-9; Likely 4-0-0-8; Andrews 1-0-1-3; Adams 1-0-0-2; Marshall 1-0-0-2; Gulley 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-1-2-31)