Lady Knights sending six to tennis regional
CLINTON — The Lady Knights of West Bladen on Wednesday snared two singles and two doubles qualifiers for the upcoming regional tennis tournament in Reidsville.
In singles, both Josie Ludlum and Alicia Avellaneda qualified; in doubles, the duo of Madison Staton and Alanna Ludlum joined the tandem of Tatianna Sturgis and Amber Long as qualifiers at Clinton High during the Four County Conference Class 2-A tournament.
“This is the first time in school history that a girls tennis program had all six players qualify for regionals,” said West Bladen coach Jeff Atkinson.
Josie Ludlum earned a bye in the first round Wednesday, then defeated Nicole Spell of Clinton 6-0, 6-0 before beating her Lady Knights teammate, Avellaneda, in the finals by a 6-1, 6-1 verdict.
Before losing in the finals, Avellaneda, who also earned a first-round bye, beat Susan Jones of Clinton in the second round 6-3, 7-5.
The doubles team of Sturgis and Long won their opening-round match 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 before taking a 6-0, 6-0 tumble in the second round to the eventual conference champions from Clinton.
Staton and Alanna Ludlum, who had a bye in the first round, took a 7-5, 6-2 win in the second round before falling in the finals 6-0, 6-0 to Hannah Smith and Caroline Barwick of Clinton.
In the consolation bracket, Sturgis and Long whipped the East Bladen duo of Carlin Ferguson and Morgan Pridgen 6-0, 6-1 before beating a Clinton team 8-4.
— The Eagles of east Bladen put a serious scare into Clinton High, the elite of Four County Conference soccer, before getting nipped 3-2 in two overtimes.
Joel Cromartie put the Eagles on the board first with a goal at the 1:30 mark, but it was Colby Hester who set up the score by dribbling the ball behind the Dark Horses’ defense before passing it off to Cromartie.
East Bladen didn’t let up, pounding shot after shot at the Clinton net.
But the Dark Horses managed to knot the game at about the 25-minute mark, which is where things stood when halftime arrived.
Eagles netminder Matt Massengill was severely tested early in the second half, but passed every test and kept Clinton off the scoreboard.
East Bladen took another one-goal lead at the 58-minute mark when a blistering shot by Jose Diaz evaded the Clinton goalie but smacked against the crossbar and bounded back to Alex Felder, who found the back of the net for a 2-1 Eagles lead.
East Bladen nearly slipped another goal in about 4 minutes later, but a shot never came when the ball squirted away.
The Dark Horses again knotted the game at the 56-minute mark and regulation ended with the two teams tied at 2-2.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the first overtime period, but Clinton scored just 3 minutes into the second overtime and that lone goal stood up.
Massengill was credited with 14 saves on the night in goal.
— In Dublin on Tuesday, the Lady Knights — honoring the memory of Jude Mills, the 17-month-old son of ag teacher Dana Mills who died in August from a chromosome disorder — easily put away Clinton in a Four County Conference that snapped a two-match losing streak.
West Bladen won by the scores of 25-16, 25-11 and 25-13.
Morgan Sweeney led the Lady Knights with 15 service winners and two kills, while Courtney Thompson contributed 14 service winners, five kills and two aces.
West Bladen donated the proceeds from “Red Knight” T-shirt sales, a silent auction, cake auction and raffles to Ronald McDonald House in Jude’s memory.
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