DUBLIN — West Bladen battled back from a 10-point halftime deficit and Malcolm Vaught nailed a game-tying three-pointer with 16 seconds left to send the contest against Purnell Swett into overtime on Tuesday. And after 3:20 of scoreless overtime, the Knights got a basket from Corbin Stanley and two free throws from Nate Pryor to nip the Rams, 53-52.
The win evened West Bladen’s early season mark at 1-1.
Purnell Swett opened the game with a press that pestered the Knights, and rebounding quickly became a problem for the home team as the Rams opened a 14-8 lead after the first period of play — thanks to an 8-0 run to end the quarter.
Purnell Swett’s run went to 11-0 when it got a three-pointer to start the second quarter, but West Bladen stopped the bleeding with an 8-0 spurt that cut the deficit to 17-16. The two teams all but traded points for the next few minutes and the Rams held a 26-23 edge before they closed the half with a 7-0 spurt that included a three-pointer at the buzzer for a 33-23 lead.
“That second quarter was better than the first — at least until the last 2 minutes,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait. “We just have to knock the rust off.”
That rust began to shake off in the second half. After Purnell Swett scored the first three points of the third quarter, West Bladen went on a 7-0 run and extended it to 11-2 to pull within 38-34 late in the quarter. The two teams traded points down the stretch and the Rams clung to a 40-36 lead to start the fourth quarter.
A 6-4 edge to start the final 8 minutes by Purnell Swett gave it a 46-40 lead, but Pryor canned a three-pointer and, after the Rams hit a free throw, Vaught hit a three-pointer to pull West Bladen to within 48-46 with less than a minute in regulation.
Purnell Swett hit a free throw to go up by three and the Knights attacked the basket from the three-point line as the clocked ticked down. One attempt went wide but was tipped back to Vaught, who swished a three-pointer to knot the game. The Rams never got a good look at the basket, and the game went to OT.
More than 3 minutes went by before Stanley finally canned a basket for West Bladen and, from there, it was a battle of free throws. Pryor sank two of three attempts, which proved enough to eek out the win.
“We missed a lot of bunnies out there, but they’ll start to fall,” Pait said. “I thought the defense played well; Ed Owens played real well and Corbin Stanley played like a man.
“We did pretty lousy against the press, but the kids played hard,” he added.
Pryor led West Bladen with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Vaught added 11 points with the pair of three-pointers. Rahu Purdie scored eight points along with nine rebounds and four steals.