ELIZABETHTOWN — A depleted West Bladen team worked to build a 10-point lead over Whiteville on Tuesday in the second game of the East Bladen Holiday Classic, then had to hang on over the final 10 minutes to claim a 33-31 victory.
The win improved the Lady Knights to 5-5 this season.
West Bladen was playing with just six players because five Lady Knights were either injured or ill.
“I’m really proud of their resolve to get this win for their five teammates and a coach …” said West Bladen coach Rick Rhoda.
The Lady Knights’ defense didn’t allow a point to Whiteville in the opening 8 minutes of play, while five West Bladen players scored in the first quarter to build an 8-0 lead.
The Lady Wolfpack opened the second stanza with a 6-2 run, but the Lady Knights answered with a 7-4 spurt spurt for a 17-10 lead. Whiteville drained a three-pointer late in the half to pull within 17-13 at halftime.
In the second half, Laikyn Pait canned a pair of baskets, Logan Autry and Elizabetht Allbright each dropped in a bucket to lead the Lady Knights on an 8-2 burst for a 25-15 advantage late in the third quarter.
But the Lady Wolfpack began chipping away. After finishing the third quarter with a free throw that sent them into the final frame trailing by 25-16, Whiteville opened the fourth quarter with a 5-0 run to pull within 25-21.
But Akira Grimes responded with a pair of baskets and Allbright canned a shot to give West Bladen a 31-21 edge with just under 4 minutes to play.
The Lady Wolfpack roared back with six unanswered points to get within 31-27, but the two teams traded points over the final 2 minutes and West Bladen sealed the win.
“Now we have to work on getting healthy over the holidays,” Rhoda said.
Akira Grimes led the Lady Knights with 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Pait followed with eight points and also grabbed eight rebounds, while Allbright and Autry each had six rebounds. Jenna Dove added five boards.
West Bladen is now off until Jan. 3, when they get back to Four County Conference play on the road at Heidi Trask.