WSN can't overcome late start, Georgiana in opener
Published 9:37 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
It was a hill W.S. Neal Blue Eagles coach Robbie Grace knew his team had to climb.
Knowing what was coming was not enough to prevent the Blue Eagles from a 51-36, season-opening loss to the visiting Georgiana Panthers Monday.
W.S. Neal entered the season with just four practices under its belt thanks to an extended football season that had Grace and most of his players occupied with that sport until its conclusion.
Despite the lack of preseason work, W.S. Neal hung with Georgiana (2-1) most of the game. While the Panthers led for all but the first 1:50 of the game, the Blue Eagles managed to stay within striking distance most of the contest. W.S. Neal was down just four points with only six minutes left before the Panthers applied the decisive run.
The Blue Eagles were unable to overcome 29 turnovers, 36 percent field goal shooting (14-for-39) and 39 percent free throw shooting (seven-for-18).
Chris Payne's field goal in the first minute of the game gave the Blue Eagles their only lead. They had only one other bucket, which came from Alexander, over the next eight minutes.
Led by a pair of field goals and two free throws by Reco Johnson, Georgiana (2-1) opened up a double-digit lead of 14-4 early in the second quarter.
The Panthers later extended their advantage to a first half high margin of 23-10 on an offensive rebound bucket by Andre Paige. Georgiana later matched that margin of cushion on another offensive rebound bucket by Paige that made it 25-12.
W.S. Neal's best run of the game began in the final minute of the first half when field goals by Jimmy Wilson and Jeremy Nicholson trimmed the Panthers' lead to 25-16.
It carried over to the first three minutes of the third quarter when baskets by Nicholson and Wilson reduced Georgiana's cushion to 25-20.
The Panthers endured a six-minute stretch where they managed just three points although W.S. Neal pulled to within 28-24 on Akeem Green's field goal with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Georgiana regained some of its lost momentum when it closed out the third period with a three-pointer by Zebbie Mitchel and opened the fourth period with a basket by Damien McIntosh that took its lead up to 33-24.
W.S. Neal's last best threat came when Alexander answered with a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup that narrowed the gap back to four points, 33-29. The Blue Eagles had a chance to draw even closer when Wilson went to the free throw line for two attempts, but missed both.
Within a minute Georgiana's lead was back in double digits, as field goals by Terance Mathews and Jamie Williams followed by a three-pointer by Johnson put the Panthers up 40-29 with five minutes left.
W.S. Neal got the lead back into single digits with 3:43 left when two free throws by Wilson made it 40-32, but could not get any closer.
W.S. Neal's junior varsity also came up short in its season opener, as Georgiana notched
a 45-36 victory. William Shell led the Blue Eagles with 12 points.
W.S. Neal, which played at Red Level Tuesday, heads to Flomaton Thursday. Play gets underway with the junior varsity game at 4:30 p.m.
At W.S. Neal
Georgiana 12 13 6 20 – 51
W.S. Neal 4 12 8 12 – 36
GEORGIANA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Johnson 5-1-2-15; Williams 4-0-0-8; McIntosh 3-0-1-7; Paige 3-0-1-7; Mathews 2-0-0-4; Sims 1-0-1-3; Mitchel 0-1-0-3; Rich 1-0-0-2; Davison 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 20-2-5-51)
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Jo. Alexander 4-1-1-12; Wilson 3-0-2-8; Nicholson 3-0-1-7; Payne 2-0-0-4; Mickens 0-0-3-3; Green 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-1-7-36)
Georgiana 16 5 13 11 - 45
W.S. Neal 6 10 14 6 - 36
GEORGIANA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Sylvester 2-2-0-12; Thomas 4-0-0-8; West 1-1-2-7; T. Crittenden 2-0-0-4; Marshall 1-0-2-4; Savage 1-0-2-4; D. Crittenden 2-0-0-4; Hall 1-0-0-2 (Totals; 15-3-6-45)
W.S. Neal (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Shell 3-1-3-12; Elliott 4-0-3-11; Je. Alexander 3-0-0-6; Peacock 2-0-1-5; Bailey 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 13-1-7-36)