PEMBROKE — West Bladen used a stifling defense in the third quarter to erase a 43-30 halftime deficit and hung on for a season-opening 67-65 non-conference win over Purnell Swett on Tuesday.
The two teams battled back and forth through the first quarter before the Rams closed the period with an 18-14 edge — and then opened up the offense in the second stanza to outscore the visiting Knights by a 25-16 margin and take the 13-point advantage into halftime.
West Bladen coach Travis Pait made some adjustments during the intermission and they paid off right away.
The Knights clamped down on the Purnell Swett offense, allowing the Rams only two points through the third quarter while the West Bladen offense put 18 points on the board to take a 48-45 lead into the final quarter.
The fourth frame was a scoring flurry, as Purnell Swett outscored the visitors by a slim 20-19 margin — but it wasn’t enough to get the win.
Stefan McDonald led West Bladen with 19 points and a trio of three-pointers, while Sayaun Dent added 13 points and John Bowen contributed 10 points.
The Knights, 1-0, will travel to face West Columbus at 8 p.m. Friday.
Lady Knights fall
West Bladen jumped out to 9-4 lead Tuesday, but home-standing Purnell Swett quickly turned the tables and secured a season-opening 40-33 non-conference win.
The Lady Rams finished a 4-0 spurt at the end of the first quarter by adding a 9-3 run through the second half to take a 17-12 advantage into halftime.
Purnell Swett opened the second half much the same as it closed the first one, using a 7-1 spurt to open a 22-13 lead. But West Bladen responded with 6-2 run to pull within 24-19 — only to see the Lady Rams answer with an 8-0 run to take a 32-19 lead after three quarters.
Laikyn Pait canned seven points, including a three-pointer, in the fourth quarter to help the Lady Knights cut the deficit to 37-30, but it was as close as the visitors could get.
Pait led West Bladen with 16 points, along with five boards and two steals. Logan Autry had three steals for the Lady Knights.
West Bladen, 0-1, will travel to face West Columbus on Friday at 6 p.m.