DUBLIN — Midway chipped away at an early deficit against West Bladen on Saturday, but midway through the fourth quarter, when the Raiders finally got their first lead since early in the first quarter, the Raiders couldn’t hold off a Knights rally that sent the visitors home with a 50-44 Four County Conference loss.
West Bladen, which swept the two-game regular-season series from Midway, improved to 14-9 overall and 8-5 in the conference. The Raiders fell to 17-5, 8-5.
A three-pointer by Malcolm Vaught and a pair of free throws by Edward Owens gave the Knights a 5-1 lead to open the game, but Midway answered with a 5-0 spurt to take a 6-5 lead. West Bladen responded with an 11-0 run sparked by a pair of baskets and free throw from Stefan McDonald, and baskets from Rahu Purdie, Corbin Stanley and Vaught.
Midway cut the deficit back to 16-8, but Vaught hit his second three-pointer to close the first quarter and give the Knights a 19-8 advantage.
Vaught opened the second stanza the same way he closed the first, by hitting a three-pointer and pushing West Bladen’s lead to 22-8. Midway canned a basket and Purdie quickly answered with a basket before the Raiders went on an 11-0 run that closed the gap to 24-21.
But McDonald hit a jumper to stop the bleeding for the Knights, then added a pair of free throws ahead of a basket by Xavier McKoy that pushed the lead to 30-21. The Raiders buried a three-pointer to close out the half, but trailed by a 30-24 margin going into halftime.
“I thought the defense was unbelievable in the first half,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait. “The three guards rally clicked well.”
Midway got the first basket to open the second half, but McDonald canned a bucket ahead of Vaught’s third three-pointer. McDonald then hit another basket and West Bladen had opened a 37-26 lead. The Raiders stopped West Bladen’s 7-0 spurt with a basket, but McDonald got that back with a basket of his own before the Raiders finished the third quarter with a 6-0 run that cut West Bladen’s lead to 39-34.
A pair of three-pointers and a basket by the Raiders to open the fourth quarter were only set off by a Purdie basket for West Bladen, and Midway took its second lead of the game at 42-41. But Purdie slashed through the Midway defense for a basket to give the Knights a lead it would not give away. McDonald added a basket and two free throws, and Purdie finished off a 7-0 spurt by West Bladen with a free throw to pad the lead to 48-42.
Midway sank a basket late in the game and Vaught closed out the game with a pair of free throws.
“This was a big win for us,” Pait said. “The kids all volunteered to come practice earlier today, which shows how bad they wanted this one.”
McDonald led West Bladen with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Vaught had 16 points behind four three-pointers and seven rebounds. Purdie added nine points and htree assists, while Brandon Council had six rebounds and four steals.