DUBLIN — Turnovers and the early inability to sink free throws cost West Bladen a chance to play for the Woodman of the World Christmas Tournament title when the Knights lost to South Columbus in the semifinals on Saturday, 67-63.
The loss drops West Bladen to 6-5 and sent them to the third-place game against North Brunswick on Monday at 6 p.m.
Despite seven turnovers in the first quarter, the Knights used a pair of three-pointers by Malcom Vaught to open a 20-14 lead after the opening period.
Another pair of Vaught three-pointers, along with one by Stefan McDonald, helped offset 10 turnovers and gave the Knights a 36-30 edge going into halftime.
But while the turnovers continued, the scoring did not for West Bladen in the third quarter. Eight giveaways and two points by the Knights spelled the beginning of the end, as South Columbus put 10 points on the board and took a 40-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
A thundering dunk by Nate Pryor knotted the game at 40-40 and a Dashaun Daniels three-pointer helped West Bladen take a 51-49 lead, but the Stallions went on a 10-0 run and then made free throws to seal the win.
Vaught led the Knights with 24 points, while Rahu Purdie added 13 points. Pryor contributed 12 pints and eight boards, while Brandon Council had eight rebounds.
— On Friday, West Bladen’s Knights opened an 11-0 lead early, stumbled a bit in the middle and then put the finishing touches on a 50-40 win over Scotland County late in the opening round of the Woodman of the World Christmas Tournament.
The Knights opened up a 13-6 lead after the first quarter of play, but the momentum shifted quickly over the next two quarters.
“They were playing a lot of junk defenses against us and that seemed to take some getting used to,” West Bladen coach Travis Pait said.
The Scots edged West Bladen 9-8 in the second stanza and trailed the home team by a 21-15 margin going into halftime.
That deficit nearly disappeared in the third quarter, as Scotland County outscored the Knights 13-9 and pulled within 30-28 going into the final 8 minutes.
But West Bladen stiffened in the fourth quarter and found its offense once again. The Knights put 20 points on the board, while holding the Scots to 12, to seal the 10-point win.
“We guarded well and, for the most part, I was happy with what we did,” Pait said. “We handled their press really well.”
Malcolm Vaught canned a pair of three-pointers and led West Bladen with 14 points, while teammates Nate Pryor added 10, Stefan McDownald had nine and Rahu Purdie eight.