ELIZABETHTOWN — West Bladen’s Knights broke out quickly with a 19-7 lead and used a 9-2 advantage at the free-throw line in the second half to take down county rival East Bladen on Tuesday, 67-53.
The Four County Conference win improved West Bladen to 11-2 overall, 4-0 in the conference; the Eagles fell to 1-12, 0-5.
Despite the 14-point win, Knights coach Travis Pait wasn’t happy with his team’s performance.
“We didn’t play hard or play smart,” he said. “It’s a very disheartening win; too many silly mistakes.”
There were no mistakes in the first quarter for West Bladen. Jimmy Williams opened the game with a three-pointer and Sayaun Dent followed with a basket for a 5-0 edge. After Eian Hines buried a bucket for East Bladen, Kalvin Page hit a free throw and John Bowen canned a basket to give the Knights an 8-2 lead.
Sadique Ingram drained a three-pointer for the Eagles, but Bowen all but took over, hitting three of West’s next four baskets. Dent hit the other bucket in the 8-0 run by the Knights that gave them a 16-5 lead. Hines hit a basket for East before Scott Bowen bombed in a three-pointer to close the quarter with West Bladen up, 19-7.
An East Bladen three-pointer by Ethan Hines was sandwiched by a trio of baskets from Bowen for the Knights, one of which was a dunk that gave the Knights a 25-10 advantage. Baskets by Ethan Hines, Eian Hines and Xavier Wooten put the Eagles on a 6-3 burst before the two teams traded four points each to finish the half with West up, 32-21.
The Knights opened the second half with baskets by John Bowen and Dent to open a 36-21 edge, but East Bladen answered with a free throw from Denzel Johnson and basket from Eian Hines. The woke up the Knights’ offense, which went on a 10-0 spree on a bucket by Page, three-pointer by Scott Bowen, three-pointer by John Bowen and basket from Dent to extend the lead to 46-24 midway through the third quarter.
The Eagles stopped the bleeding with a basket and three pointer from Demetrius Wooten and, after Page drained two free throws for West, Ethan Hines buried a three-pointer and Xavier Wooten and Ingram each hit baskets to pull within 49-39. Page ended the period with a free throw for West, as the Knights carried an 11-point lead into the fourth frame.
Jonathan Robinson hit a free throw for the Knights to start the quarter and Ingram buried another three-pointer for East before West Bladen went on a 7-0 blitz behind a basket by Robinson, old-fashioned three-point play by Page and bucket from Dent to take a 59-42 lead.
The Eagles went on a 10-4 spurt that featured a pair of three-pointers from Johnson and whittled the deficit to 63-52, but Drew Harris canned a close-up basket and Dent drained two free throws for West to seal the win.
“As happy as I’ve been with this team at times, this was just disheartening,” Pait said. “East Bladen played hard and was a lot of the reason we played like we did, but there are kids on this team who have worked really hard to improve their skills and then we go out and play silly …
“We’ve got to start listening and doing what is asked or we’re going to get walloped along the way,” he added.
John Bowen led West Bladen with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Dent was right behind with 18 points and seven boards. Page contributed nine points and eight assists. The Knights were 11-for-24 at the line.
East Bladen had a trio of players in double figures — Eian Hines, Ethan Hines and Johnson — all with 10 points.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.