GOLDSBORO — West Bladen hung with Goldsboro for most of the first half Tuesday, but a terrible third quarter all but ended the Knights’ bid for an upset in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 2-A playoffs, falling to the Cougars 88-69.
West Bladen, seeded No. 23 in the tournament, ends its season at 20-8, while No. 10 Goldsboro moves on with a 23-3 record.
The game opened like a slugfest between two heavyweights, with each team taking shots from the other. Stefan McDonald, John Bowen each hit three-pointers for the Knights and McDonald added a pair of baskets as the two teams battled to a 20-20 draw after the first quarter.
McDonald and Will Lambeth each drained three-pointers in the second quarter to keep West Bladen close, but Goldsboro began to pull away late and went into halftime nursing a 39-32 advantage.
Adjustments during the intermission favored the home team, as the Cougars came out on fire in the third quarter. Despite 10 points from Sayaun Dent, West Bladen wasn’t able to match Goldsboro’s firepower and were outscored by a 32-20 margin and fell behind 71-52 with just 8 minutes to play.
The Knights got a three-pointer and six points from Lambeth in the fourth frame and Dent added five points, but the two teams battled to another knot in the quarter, this time 17-17, and Goldsboro sealed the win.
“We played well, but the Achilles heel that hit us seven or eight games ago was the loss of our backup point guard (Kalvin Page) to injury,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait. “That caused us to have to play differently and it hurt us.
“But the kids stepped up and we battled through it,” he added. “It was a tough draw. Goldsboro is a very good team. But I’m happy with another 20-win season.”
Dent led a trio of Knights in double figures, scoring 19 points, while McDonald finished with 16 points and Lambeth contributed 15 points.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.