ELIZABETHTOWN — Turnovers and a porous defense never allowed East Bladen to separate itself from Whiteville on Friday, and the Eagles dropped a 58-48 non-conference decision.
The loss send East Bladen to 2-1.
After the Wolfpack opened the game with a basket, east Bladen got a free throw from Jaquan Jones and three-pointer from Alex Stephens to take a 4-2 lead. But Whiteville answered with a 7-0 run to go up 9-4 before the Eagles closed the first quarter with a 7-0 spurt of its own on a pair of baskets by Josh McMillian, a bucket and free throw by Stephens to take an 11-9 lead into the second quarter.
East Bladen’s 7-0 run at the end of the first quarter turned into a 15-0 run when it started the second quarter with an 8-0 spurt for a 19-9 lead. But turnovers quickly soured the second stanza for the Eagles and Whiteville went on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 19-18. After an East Bladen basket, the Wolfpack closed the half with a 5-1 run and took a 23-20 lead into intermission.
Whiteville used a 15-6 run to open the third quarter — highlighted by a barrage of three-pointers — for a 38-26 lead, but East Bladen answered with a 12-4 spurt to cut the gap back to 42-38. The two teams traded a pair of free throws and a basket late in the quarter and Whiteville took a 46-42 advantage into the fourth period.
The Wolfpack’s pressure defense continually stymied East Bladen in the final 8 minutes and the Eagles couldn’t string together a pair of baskets around a stop. Whiteville slowly pulled away down the stretch, winning the fourth quarter by a 12-6 margin to seal the win.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” East Bladen coach Ken Cross said. “Whiteville’s good; we can’t make mistakes against a good team with a lot of athletes. We’ve got to do better on defense.”
East Bladen lost the turnover scorecard, 27-12.
Three Eagles scored in double figures, led by Jones with 14 points. Stephens followed with 11 points on a pair of three-pointers and Farrell Murchison scored 10 points with a three-pointer.