ELIZABETHTOWN — South Columbus opened a close game with a big second half Tuesday and took a 52-33 Three Rivers Conference game from East Bladen.
The loss puts the Eagles at 0-2 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
“We’re not playing the way we practice — it’s like, who are these kids?” said East Bladen coach Kenzil McCall. “Our shot selection is … oh man.”
The Eagles opened the game with a 3-0 spurt behind a free throw by Adonis Avery and a basket by Sincere Smith. After the two teams traded buckets midway through the quarter, the Stallions finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run that gave them a 9-5 edge going into the second quarter.
That lead was pushed to 11-5 before Smith hit a bucket and Messiah Leach canned a free throw to pull the Eagles to within 11-8. Javant McDowell canned a pair of Eagles baskets down the stretch and East Bladen went into halftime trailing by just 16-14.
The scoring drought of the first half was quickly erased, as the Stallions lit up the scoreboard for 22 points in the third quarter. An early 8-4 spurt by South Columbus gave the visitors a 24-18 edge and, after a Smith basket, the Stallions went on a 9-0 run to extend the advantage to 33-20.
McDowell and Leach canned buckets for East Bladen and Smith added two free throws during a 6-0 spurt by the Eagles, but South Columbus finished the quarter with a 5-3 advantage — with Avery burying a three-pointer for the Eagles — for a 38-29 lead.
The visitors opened the fourth frame with a 5-0 spurt and held East Bladen scoreless over the first 3:22 when Anthony Wooten put East Bladen on the board with a bucket. But the Stallions answered with a 6-0 run and, after a basket by Smith, sealed the game with a 3-0 finish.
“We played hard in spurts, but we have to learn to share the ball,” McCall said. “There are players I expect to see better play and leadership, and I’m not seeing it yet. It’s selfish play.”
Smith led the Eagles with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. McDowell scored eight points for East Bladen, while Avery had six. The Eagles were also just 4-of-16 from the free throw line.
East Bladen will travel to face Red Springs on Friday at 8 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.