BURGAW — Free throws helped pave the way for a West Bladen win on the road Tuesday, as the Knights canned 24-of-28 freebies en route to a 52-45 Four County Conference win over Pender County.
The win improves West Bladen to 12-8 overall and 6-4 in the conference. Pender County falls to 8-10, 3-6.
In a game that featured the best two defenses in the conference, the first half showed nothing but offensive struggles at both ends of the court. When the first quarter came to a close, the Knights were clinging to a narrow 6-4 advantage.
The second stanza didn’t change things much. The two teams traded six points each and West Bladen went into the locker room with a 12-10 edge.
“It was just a tough first half for both teams,” West Bladen Coach Travis Pait said. “There was really good defense being played.”
The tables turned in the second half, as the offenses found their groove and began hitting shots.
Neither team could get much of a leg up, as points were being traded back and forth. When the third quarter wound down, the Knights had bumped the lead up by one at 30-27.
Foul shots really came front and center for West Bladen in the fourth quarter, and the Knights delivered. West Bladen outscored the home team by a 22-18 margin thanks to free throws and literally sealed the game at the line.
“Our free-throw shooting was a big key for us,” Pait said. “But we really guarded well and handled their press all night. This was a total team effort.”
Stefan McDonald had a double-double with 15 points and had 12 rebounds for West Bladen. He also had five assists and three blocks. Rahu Purdie scored 11 points for the Knights, while Malcolm Vaught scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and had five steals. Brandon Council had six rebounds.