DUBLIN — Stumbles in the second and fourth quarters put West Bladen in a hole it couldn’t climb out of Friday, and the Knights dropped a Four County Conference tilt to visiting Clinton, 51-43.
The loss drops West Bladen to 12-9 overall and 6-5 in the conference, while the Dark Horses improve to 15-4, 8-2.
The first quarter was a tale of two halves, as the Knights opened the game with an 8-0 run. Malcolm Vaught highlighted the spurt with a three-pointer, while Brandon Council scored a basket inside and Corbin Stanley followed suit after a Stefan McDonald free throw.
But Clinton responded by finishing the first quarter with a 9-0 run and took the 9-8 lead into the second stanza.
West Bladen began the second quarter with a 5-0 spurt thanks to Edward Owens, who came off the bench and canned a three-pointer and basket to give the Knights a 13-9 edge. The Dark Horses, however, answered with a time-consuming 10-0 run to regain the lead at 19-13.
Council drained an inside basket and Vaught hit a free throw, but Clinton went into halftime with a 24-16 lead.
West Bladen found some momentum and energy in its offense in the third quarter — outscoring the Horses by a 19-10 margin, thanks to three-pointers from Vaught and Rahu Purdie along the way. But with Clinton holding a 34-27 lead with the first half draining away, West Bladen finished the second quarter with a 8-0 run on a basket and two free throws each from McDonald and Owens for a 35-34 edge with 8 minutes left to play.
The fourth started positively for the home team. West Bladen got a three-pointer from McDonald and free throws by Purdie and Stanley to highlight a 7-5 spurt. But Clinton answered with a game-sealing 12-0 run that featured six straight free throws before Xavier McKoy sank a free throw to finish the scoring for the Knights. During the run, both Vaught and Purdie had three-pointers circle and rim out.
“That second quarter hurt us the most,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait. “But we kept fighting.
“I still thought it was our game with two and a half minutes left, but …”
Owens led West Bladen with nine points, while Vaught and McDonald each scored eight. Council led the Knights with 13 rebounds, and McDonald added seven boards.