Early missed opportunities catch up with Lady Eagles
By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
Most of the time a team's red flag comes out when it is behind. The red flag came out on the W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles when they were ahead.
W.S. Neal's warning signs eventually turned into a 55-36 loss to the Florala Lady Wildcats in Monday's opening round of the Florala Tournament.
The Lady Blue Eagles (3-7) had a 16-10 lead halfway through the second quarter, but had failed to take advantage of several opportunities to open up a much greater margin.
Florala (4-4) turned the ball over 17 times in the first half and had 26 giveaways for the game. W.S. Neal also had its share of turnover problems with 14 miscues in the first half and
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24 for the game. To add insult to injury, the Lady Blue Eagles were two-for-14 from the free throw line in the first half and just four-for-21 for the game.
W.S. Neal built a 10-7 lead in the opening quarter thanks to a pair of buckets and two free throws by Jolesia Likely. Likely had two more buckets, both off steals, early in the second quarter that extended the Lady Blue Eagles lead to that game high margin of 16-10.
Despite its turnover problems, Florala was able to swing the game in its favor with a 16-0 run. Guard Liz Ferman, who led all scorers with 24 points, had nine of those in that surge to push the Lady Wildcats in front.
Jessica Smith's basket off an assist from Likely at the first half buzzer produced the only points for W.S. Neal in a fatal six-minute stretch. By that point Florala had gone from down 16-10 to up 26-16.
The other decisive run by the Lady Wildcats came in the third quarter after hoops by Likely and Dominique Bailem trimmed Florala's lead to 28-22.
W.S. Neal managed just a free throw by Jamica Thomas over the last five and a half minutes of the frame, as Florala closed out the quarter on a 10-1 run and a 38-23 lead.
The Lady Blue Eagles drew within 42-31 on a bucket by Tierra Andrews with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter, but Florala sealed the verdict with a 13-2 run that swelled the gap to 55-33.
In Monday's other first-round games, Samson whipped Straughn 51-14, Opp downed Kinston 63-45 and Pleasant Home downed New Brockton 44-19.
W.S. Neal faced Class 3A area 1 rival Straughn in Tuesday's consolation semifinals. The Lady Blue Eagles will close out the tournament Thursday against either new Brockton or Kinston at 9 a.m. in the seventh place game or at 12 noon in the consolation championship.
W.S. Neal 10 8 5 13 – 36
Florala 7 19 12 17 – 55
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Likely 5-0-3-13; Andrews 5-0-2-12; Bailem 2-0-0-4; Smith 2-0-0-4; Gulley 1-0-0-2; Thomas 0-0-1-1 (Totals: 13-2-4-36)
FLORALA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Ferman 11-0-2-24; Odom 4-1-1-12; Smiley 2-0-2-6; L. Davis 3-0-0-6; Smith 2-0-1-5; Edwards 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 23-1-6-55)