DUBLIN — Nineteen turnovers in the first quarter, 40 for the game. Those statistics alone tell the story of West Bladen’s 76-50 loss to the visiting Lady Dark Horses of Clinton on Friday.
The loss drops the Lady Knights to 11-7 overall and 6-5 in the Four County Conference, while Clinton improves to 16-2 and 9-1.
Nothing went right for West Bladen in the opening quarter, as the Lady Horses pressured right from the start. The Lady Knights’ first three possessions resulted in turnovers, a 4-0 deficit and set the tone for the game.
A Courtney Thompson free throw on West Bladen’s fourth possession got the home team on the board, but Clinton rattled off a 19-0 run that featured a pair of three-pointers and stretched the lead to 23-1. Thompson canned an inside shot to stop the bleeding, but the Lady Horses closed out the first quarter holding a 29-6 lead.
West Bladen’s offense showed signs of life in the second quarter, but not before Clinton opened with a 5-0 spurt to push the lead to 34-6. The Lady Knights answered with a 10-4 run on a basket by Autumn Bobby, two from Brianna Jackson and free throws by Thompson and Miriam Mendoza.
But Clinton got three straight three-pointers from freshman sensation Mikayla Boykin sandwiched around a Jackson basket, and the Lady Horses opened a 47-18 lead. West Bladen closed out the half with a 6-2 spurt thanks to a pair of buckets from Laikyn Pait and one from Taylor Stephens, and trailed by 49-24 at intermission.
The Lady Knights switched their defense from a 3-2 zone to a box-and-one, with Tierra McKoy sticking to Boykin. The move helped, as Boykin scored just six points in the second half, but Clinto found other weapons and outscored West Bladen by a 20-4 margin in the third quarter.
The Lady Horses opened the second half with a 12-0 run and held West Bladen scoreless until the 2:33 mark when Bobby hit a basket. The two teams traded a bucket each, with Thompson sinking the bucket for the Lady Knights, but Clinton finished the quarter on a 6-0 spurt to take a 69-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
That spurt continued into the final 8 minutes, with the Lady Horses canning a pair of baskets before Stephens hit a bucket. Clinton matched the basket and then brought in massive substitutions. West Bladen took advantage, going on a 10-0 run on three baskets from Thompson, one by Jackson and a pair of free throws by Thompson.
The lady Horses scored a single free throw to end the West Bladen run, but the Lady Knights finished the game with another 10-0 spurt that featured six points from Thompson and a basket each by McKoy and Akira Grimes.
“We did the best we could, but they have a really good team,” West Bladen coach Pam Stephens said. “At some point, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about having fun, playing ball and doing your best.”
The Lady Knights managed to get a pair of double-doubles: Thompson scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Jackson had 10 points and 15 rebounds.