ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen snapped a four-game Four County Conference losing streak on Friday against visiting Wallace-Rose Hill, but needed overtime to do it after blowing a 13-point lead during a frantic fourth quarter.
The 66-62 win improves the Eagles to 6-7 overall and 1-4 in the conference.
East Bladen did everything right in regulation — except hit their free throws — and it cost them down the stretch.
The Eagles opened the game with a 5-0 spurt sparked by baskets from Farrell Murchison and Josh McMillian. But Wallace-Rose Hill cut the deficit to 5-4 before East Bladen finished the first quarter with a 7-0 run keyed by a basket from Alex Stephens and three-pointer by Dayvon Powell for a 12-4 lead.
The momentum continued for the Eagles in the second stanza when Powell swished in another three-pointer and Jaquan Jones nailed a basket for a 17-4 advantage. The Bulldogs answered with a 10-0 run that closed the gap to 17-14, but East Bladen responded with a 7-0 spurt behind baskets from Ethan Hines, Murchison and McMillian to extend the lead to 24-14. Two free throws by Wallace-Rose Hill cut the gap to 24-16 at halftime.
Early in the second half, while holding a 25-18 edge, the Eagles manufactured a 6-0 run on baskets by Hines and McMillian — along with free throws by Jones — to open a 31-18 lead. But the Bulldogs answered with a 6-4 advantage before Powell launched a long-range three-pointer at the buzzer that fell, giving East Bladen a 37-24 lead.
Then came the crazy fourth quarter.
Wallace-Rose Hill canned a trio of three-pointers and put 30 points on the board — including a game-knotting basket at the just before the buzzer sounded to end regulation — while Stephens hit a three-pointer for East Bladen as part of a 17-point quarter for the Eagles.
A quick glance at the scorebook showed that East Bladen had made just 14-of-31 free throws in regulation, and it would only get worse in overtime.
The Bulldogs hit a three-pointer and four free throws — including one on a technical foul — and took a 61-57 lead midway through the 4-minute period. But Eian Hines and Stephens each hit baskets to knot the game at 61-61 and, after a Wallace-Rose Hill free throw, Stephens hit a layup and Eian Hines stole the inbounds pass and turned it into a basket. Moments later, Stephens hit a free throw to seal the win.
“This was a big win, but every game is a big one for us now,” said East Bladen coach Ken Cross. “I’m pretty happy with the effort, but we should make layups and free throws — the key word being should.”
The Eagles were just 18-for-43 at the free throw line.
Powell led East Bladen with 14 points behind the the trio of three-pointers, while Murchison and Stephens each scored 12 points. McMillian added nine points.