Neil scores career-high 38, Wildcats defeat Panthers

Fort Payne guard Kylie Neil (25) attempts a shot under the basket against Southside during the second half at Fort Payne High School on Thursday night.

FORT PAYNE — When the Fort Payne girls were looking for an open teammate, Kylie Neil was there.

Neil finished with a career-high 38 points in the Wildcats’ 63-50 victory against Southside on Thursday night.

Neil shot 18 of 28 from the floor and added seven rebounds. She finished six points shy of tying Capriee Tucker’s program-record 44 points scored in a sub-state game in 2008, Wildcats coach Steve Sparks said.

“(Neil) created some shots but she also got some good passes right on the money that led to some shots,” Sparks said. “I’m proud for Kylie.”

Isabelle Goggans scored 12 points for the Wildcats (8-1).

Neil scored 10 points in the first quarter. She had a fast-break layup, a score under the rim and was assisted on a pair of layups to help Fort Payne take a 14-13 lead.

The Wildcats gained some separation in the second period. Kiuna Johnson scored off a rebound, adding a layup off a stolen pass. Goggans hit a jumper, and Neil scored a pair of layups to close the half with Fort Payne leading 29-21.

Behind pressure defense, Fort Payne used a 7-1 run in the third to extend the advantage. The Wildcats pressured the Panthers into turnovers that created fast-break chances. Goggans made a jump shot, a pair of free throws and a layup to make it 44-28 with 1:49 remaining in the period. Neil added a driving layup to end the run.

“The second half was good to us, defensively,” Sparks said. “We opened the passing lanes and played a little more aggressively than we did in the first half. We didn’t play terribly in the first half, but we didn’t execute defensively and missed some shots.”

Fort Payne visits Albertville on Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m.

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