ELIZABETHTOWN — The lady Eagles put together a solid game at both ends of the court on Wednesday and dispatched visiting North Pitt, 54-34, in the second round of the state’s Class 2-A East playoffs.
East Bladen improves to 27-1 and will host Southern Vance, 22-2, on Friday.
Christiana Cromartie opened the game with a basket for East Bladen, followed by two straight baskets by the Lady Panthers. The Lady Eagles, who went nearly 2 minutes without a point, got a pair of free throws from Lacey Suggs ahead of a three-pointer by North Pitt that gave the Lady Panthers a 7-4 edge. But it would be the last lead the visitors would enjoy.
East Bladen went on a 7-0 spurt thanks to plenty of pressure and help defense that created several turnovers. North Pitt, which was held scoreless for more than 3 minutes, sank a basket to pull within 11-9 with 1:21 left in the first quarter. But the Lady Eagles answered with a 6-1 run on three quick baskets by Suggs for a 17-10 lead.
The Lady Panthers opened the second quarter with an 8-4 spurt, but East Bladen — which fought for every loose ball in the quarter — got a basket from Suggs along with a basket and three-pointer from Asha Graham to open a 28-18 lead. After a bucket by the visitors, Suggs sank a basket and Graham buried another three-pointer to give the Lady Eagles a 33-20 lead at halftime.
“It’s not over,” East Bladen coach Patty Evers said. “This team (North Pitt) can score a lot quickly.”
It never happened.
The third quarter saw East Bladen’s defense continue to pester the Lady Panther dribblers and shooters, while at the offensive end, Suggs scored five points while Graham and Abby Ward each added a basket as the Lady Eagles widened the lead to 42-25.
East Bladen employed a spread-the-floor offense for a majority of the fourth quarter, passing up on numerous open shots and frustrating North Pitt and forcing them to foul.
After a basket by the Lady Panthers, East Bladen went on a 6-0 spurt on a basket by Cromartie and a pair of free throws each by Graham and Suggs. A free throw by North Pitt was followed by a pair of free throws by Graham; a basket by the visitors was followed by free throws by Suggs (after a technical foul) and Ward; and two quick baskets by the Lady Panthers with less than a minute to play was followed by a basket from Emily Scott to end the game.
“We wanted to take the ball out of their hands and run the clock,” Evers said. “But it kind of messed up our flow a bit. But I’m real proud of how we played.”
Suggs led East Bladen with 25 points — 11 in the first quarter — along with seven steals, five rebounds and three assists. Graham contributed 16 points — 10 in the second quarter — with a pair of three-pointers and added four assists.
Cromartie had 10 rebounds, four blocks and four points, while Imani Turner-Dobson had seven rebounds. Ward had five points, five assists and four steals.
First round …
— Warren County used a 5-0 spurt at the end of the first quarter to pull within 12-9 of East Bladen, but it was the closest they would get as the Lady Eagles whipped the visitors 56-27 in the first round of the state’s Class 2-A East playoffs.
The game started 47 minutes late because Warren County was late arriving.
The Lady Eagles opened the game with a 6-0 run spurred by a basket and free throw from Lacey Suggs, a basket by Abbey Norris and free throw by Asha Graham. The East Bladen defense, meanwhile, held Warren County scoreless until the 3:53 mark, but a basket by the visitors was matched by Suggs moments later.
Warren County sank another basket quickly, but the Lady Eagles got baskets by Suggs and Imani Turner-Dobson to go up 12-4 before the visitors got a three-pointer and basket down the srtetch to rtail 12-9 after the first quarter.
East Bladen got a pair of free throws by Suggs before any time ticked off the clock to start the second quarter because of a technical on the Warren County bench for an incorrect scorebook. Warren County scored moments later, but East Bladen’s defense created several turnovers and the Lady Eagles went on a 7-0 spurt on baskets by Graham, Abby Ward and Suggs — as well as a free throw by Suggs — to take a 21-11 lead.
After a free throw by the visitors, Graham launched and sank a three-pointer and, after two more free throws by Warren County, the Lady Eagles used a 6-0 run to finish the first half on baskets by Turner-Dobson, Suggs and Norris for a 30-14 advantage.
“We’re not running our offense and our passing is terrible,” said East Bladen coach Patty Evers. “But the girls are playing hard.”
Norris and Christiana Cromartie opened the second half with baskets for East Bladen and the defense kept Warren County off the scoreboard until the 5:01 mark. Graham matched the visitor’s basket and, after a Warren County free throw, the Lady Eagles tightened its defense and created several turnovers that resulted in fast-break points. Suggs sank a pair on the run, Turner-Dobsoin hit a put-back and Graham scored a basket before Suggs finished the 9-0 run with a free throw that gave East Bladen a 45-17 lead after three quarters.
Ward opened the fourth quarter with a basket and, after a pair of Warren County free throws, East Bladen went on a 7-0 spurt thanks to baskets from Graham, Ward and Turner-Dobson — and finished off by a free throw from Suggs — that opened a 54-19 lead.
That’s when Evers began clearing her bench.
Warren County got a quick pair of three-pointers before Suggs stopped the run with a basket. Warren County ended the game with a bucket and East Bladen held the ball to finish the game.
“First off, I’m happy for Imani and Abbey — the seniors won their first playoff game,” Evers said. “It’s good to get the first one out of the way.
“They (Warren County) played good defense, probably one of the better defense we’ve seen this season,” she added. “But Lacey had a good all-around game — she’s our leader and she’s been looking for her teammates a lot.”
Suggs had a double-double for East Bladen with 19 points, 10 assists and five steals. Graham contributed 12 points and five assists, while Turner-Dobson had nine points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Norris chipped in eight points and Ward had six points with four assists.