DUBLIN – A ferocious fourth-quarter rally by West Bladen fell just short Tuesday in a 59-55 non-conference loss to visiting Class 4-A Wilmington Hoggard in the Knights’ season-opener.
West Bladen employed a non-stop pressure defense that saw coach Travis Pait constant use his entire bench, but an early deficit proved to be too big of a challenge.
“The kids played hard,” Pait said, “but we have to get better.”
The visiting Vikings built a quick 9-0 lead and despite being outscored 14-12 over the next few minutes, went on to take a 21-14 advantage into the second stanza.
West Bladen managed to pull within 23-17 early in the quarter, but Hoggard used a 10-5 run to finish the half and took a 33-22 lead into halftime.
The two teams traded four points to open the second half, but the Vikings scored the next four points and went on to take a 46-32 edge into the fourth quarter.
The pressure defense by West Bladen began to pay big dividends, as the Knights forced a dozen turnovers down the stretch — which helped the home team start a comeback. The Knights went on a 20-5 run — thanks in part to a Scott Bowen three-pointer — to get within 53-52 with less than a minute to play, but Hoggard held West Bladen in check the rest of the way to seal the win.
Tyre Boykin led the Knights with 13 points; Kerron Washington had eight points and four steals; Jonathan Robinson scored seven points and grabbed nine boards; Jimmy Williams scored seven points; Bowen had six rebounds; and Gerardo Reyes had six rebounds.
West Bladen opens Three Rivers Conference play on Friday at 8 p.m. in Fairmont.