ELIZABETHTOWN — Pender County controlled the free throw line and the boards to steal a 54-50 Four County Conference win from East Bladen on Friday.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 5-6 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
Marshall Allen canned a three-pointer for East Bladen to break an early 2-2 knot, but the Patriots went on a 9-1 run to open an 11-6 lead. The Eagles responded with a late-quarter surge to narrow the deficit to 13-11 when the first quarter closed.
In the second stanza, East Bladen played its best basketball — outscoring Pender by an 18-10 margin and taking a 29-23 lead going into intermission. That lead was padded by a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Farrell Murchison.
The Patriots came out in the second half and quickly climbed back into the game, outscoring the Eagles by a 14-10 margin and pulling within two at 39-37 when the third quarter expired.
In the final 8 minutes of play, Pender put 17 points on the board — but 13 of those came from free throw line. The patriots also outwrestled East Bladen on the boards, taking an 11-2 advantage down the stretch in that department.
The Eagles last lead of the game came at the 5:35 mark at 41-39, but Pender went on a 5-0 run to take a 44-41 edge. East Bladen responded with a 7-4 spurt sparked by a three-pointer from Alex Stephens to knot the game at 48-48, but the Patriots finished the game at the foul line.
Jaquan Jones led the Eagles with 14 points and Josh McMillian added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Farrell Murchison, who had been on a scoring tear, was held to just seven points