BURGAW — An extremely slow start was too much for the Lady Knights to battle back from Tuesday, and Pender County went on to upset West Bladen in a Four County Conference matchup, 54-53.
The loss drops the Lady Knights to 11-6 overall and 6-4 in the conference. Pender County improved to 2-15, 2-7.
The Lady Patriots opened the game with a 16-3 run through the first quarter that set West Bladen back on its heels. And the second stanza did little to help, as Pender County nipped the Lady Knights by an 11-10 margin in the period to take a 27-13 lead into halftime.
“It was like deja vu for us … another slow start,” said West Bladen coach Pam Stephens. “The girls were aggressive, but the shots just weren’t falling.”
The Lady Knights made some halftime adjustments and came out of the locker room a different team.
Courtney Thompson’s shot began to fall and Miriam Mendoza drained a trio of three-pointers in the second half to pace the West Bladen offense.
The Lady Knights outscored Pender by a 22-15 margin in the third period and cut the deficit to 42-35. That second-half push continued in the fourth quarter as West Bladen outscored the Lady Patriots by an 18-12 margin, but the rally fell just short.
“This is a tough one,” Stephens said. “But we have to get past it. Pender played a good game — probably their best game of the season.”
Courtney Melvin recorded another double-double for West Bladen, scoring 19 points — 12 in the second half — and pulling down 20 rebounds. Her 19 points put her over the 1,000-point career total at 1,012; her 20 rebounds bumped her up to the No. 7 slot on the all-time career list in the state. She is 57 rebounds behind East Bladen’s Courtney Melvin.
Taylor Stephens scored 11 points, dished out five assists and had three steals for the Lady Knights, while Mendoza had the trio of three-pointers along with six steals and four assists.