PEMBROKE — West Bladen couldn’t protect a halftime lead and had a late rally fall short on Friday in a 65-63 non-conference loss to Purnell Swett.
The loss drops the Knights to 4-3 and wraps up their non-conference schedule. West Bladen opens Four County Conference play Tuesday at Union.
Nate Pryor and Malcolm Vaught combined for 10 points in the first quarter and the Knights took a slim 14-13 advantage into the second stanza.
West Bladen ballooned its lead to 30-22 by halftime behind a pair of three-pointers from Vaught that helped the Knights win the quarter, 16-9.
But the Rams made adjustments during the intermission, and they began paying dividends immediately in the third quarter. Purnell Swett got 19 points from two players and the Rams went on to take the quarter by a 24-13 margin and also took the lead after three quarters of play, 46-43.
The two teams worked to keep the game close throughout the final 8 minutes and, with less than a minute left to play, the Knights trailed by 64-60 when Rahu Purdie hit three straight free throws to pull West Bladen to within 64-63.
The Rams added a free throw to go up by two, but the Knights missed out on any chances to knot the game in the final seconds.
Vaught led West Bladen with 21 points behind four three-pointers — giving him 11 long-range buckets in the last three games. Pryor scored 16 points and had nine rebounds, while Stefan McDonald had eight assists.
— West Bladen turned up the defensive heat in the middle quarters and got a big game from Nate Pryor for a 48-33 non-conference win over West Columbus on Thursday in Dublin.
The win improved the Knights to 4-2.
The two teams opened the game by trading five points each, but West Bladen then went on an 8-1 run behind a three-pointer by Pryor and a steal by Rahu Purdie that he turned into a basket. The Vikings managed to get the best of things to close the first quarter, but only barely at 6-4, and trailed at the buzzer by a 17-12 margin.
The Knights opened the second stanza with a 7-0 run highlighted by a three-pointer from Malcolm Vaught and the West Bladen defense held the visitors to just four points in the quarter. The Knights finished off the half with a 5-4 advantage for a 29-16 lead at the intermission.
The defensive pressure continued in the second half, as West Bladen outscored the Vikings by a 12-6 margin behind a three-pointer by Stefan McDonald and six points by Pryor to lead 41-22.
West Columbus managed to win the final quarter 11-7, but it was too little to threaten the Knights’ lead.
Pryor led West Bladen with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Vaught added 11 points behind a trio of three-pointers — all in the first half.