ST. PAULS — East Bladen and St. Pauls played evenly through the first 10 minutes of Thursday’s non-conference game, but rust, turnovers and a 24-0 burst helped the Bulldogs chalk up the win, 64-43.
A handful of the Eagles were playing their first game of the season after a deep run in the football playoffs and just three days of practice on the hardcourt.
The loss dropped East Bladen to 0-3 on the season.
St. Pauls opened the game with an 8-4 run, but the Eagles finished the quarter with its own 8-4 run behind a pair of three-pointers from Denzel Johnson that knotted the game at 12-12 going into the second quarter.
The two teams traded four points through the first 2 minutes, but East Bladen suddenly went frigid. St. Pauls finished the first half on a 14-0 spurt that gave the Bulldogs a 30-16 lead at intermission, then opened the second half with a 10-o burst to open a 40-16 advantage.
Midway through the third quarter, East Bladen got a bucket from Demarius McArthur that stopped the bleeding and Johnson buried a three-pointer moments later, but the Bulldogs took a 50-29 lead into the fourth frame.
Eian Hines slammed home a dunk and nailed a three-pointer, and Demetrius Wooten added a three-pointer that carried the Eagles to with 56-40, but St. Pauls easily sealed the win by finishing on an 8-3 run.
Hines led East Bladen with 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Johnson contributed 12 points for the Eagles.
East Bladen will host Midway on Tuesday in the Four County Conference opener at 8 p.m.