By PATRICK CASEY
The Freeport Lady Bulldogs have won their first four games of the regular season in basketball for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign as they upended Ponce de Leon 60-57 on Monday night to break a 23-game losing streak against the Pirates.
Freeport hopped out to an 18-10 lead after one quarter of play in PDL as sophomore Megan O’Neal canned three shots from behind the arc to help the Walton County squad to the early advantage.
The Pirates closed the gap to 30-25 at halftime as Delilah Bass and Hannah Howell answered with a pair of three-point shots of their own to stay on the Bulldogs’ heels.
The Bulldogs forced five turnovers in the third quarter and got six points from Mary Kate Myrick as five different players scored over the eight minute span to help the visiting team expand the lead to 47-36.
Howell spurred a furious comeback in the last quarter of play as she scored 15 of her 35 points in the final stanza as the Pirates hit 7-of-14 shots from the field during that time but came up a point shy of a tie with three seconds left. PDL fouled Freeport’s Katie Decker with one second remaining with the senior nailing a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to three points as the Pirates were unable to get off a shot as time expired.
The Bulldogs, who currently dress only six varsity players, got double figure scoring from four players as Myrick led the way with 16 points. Decker finished with 14 while Megan O’Neal had 13 and Katie O’Neal added 12. Freeport connected on 17-of-53 shots from the floor while hitting 20-of-31 from the free throw line.
PDL got off to a slow start shooting the basketball as the Pirates hit only 4-of-17 shots in the first quarter but rallied to finish the night 21-of-61 from the field. The Holmes County squad was not helped by 7-of-14 free throw shooting. Delilah Bass added 15 points but the Pirates lacked a third scorer on the night as August Brown’s four points was next in line in the scorer’s column.
Freeport forced 13 turnovers in the game while committing only seven of their own. In a bit of a statistical oddity, the Pirates had no turnovers in the first quarter while Freeport had none of their own in the third, a feat rarely seen in girls basketball by both teams.
PDL won the junior varsity contest by a 40-2 score.
Freeport posted blowouts last week over Bozeman 92-14, North Bay Haven 70-35 and snapped a 12-game losing streak to South Walton with a 77-45 home victory on Nov. 12.
Against South Walton, Freeport hit 13 shots from behind the three-point line as Katie O’Neal and Mary Kate Myrick each scored 25 points in the contest. The Bulldogs hit 27-of-65 shots from the field as they led at the half 35-22. Megan O’Neal added 12 of her 15 points in the second half as Freeport posted a 42-23 scoring advantage over the final 16 minutes to capture a season-opening victory.
South Walton got 14 points from Casey Perot and 11 from Mackenzie Perot as they fell to 1-1 on the year. Freeport forced 20 turnovers in the contest while posting only eight of their own.
The Bulldogs posted their first win over the Seahawks since a 59-54 victory at South Walton on Jan. 26 of 2007 as Freeport swept the season series that year.
The Bulldogs have two important district contests this week as they host Holmes County on Thursday night followed by Baker on Friday.
Team Notes: PDL holds a 27-3 advantage in the series dating back to the 1995-96 season. The Bulldogs had last defeated the Pirates 59-33 in PDL on Jan. 8, 1999. The victory was Mike Myrick’s first against PDL in his 15-year career at Freeport. Myrick holds a mark of 140-221 in that time at the school. Tim Alford is in his 19th season at PDL and holds a record of 402-145 at the school. Pirates assistant coach Laurie Tinsley was a member of the 1999 team that last lost to Freeport as she led the team with 10 points on that night as a freshman. The Pirates 1-2 start is their worst since the 2002-03 season when they began the year 0-4. Freeport defeated South Walton’s junior varsity 19-16. South Walton holds an 18-5 edge in the series with Freeport since the rivalry began in 2003-04. Myrick and Katie O’Neal are both averaging 21 points a game through the first four contests of the year. Megan O’Neal isn’t far behind with 18 points per game.
By PATRICK CASEY