DUBLIN — In a rematch of last year’s Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament, West Bladen used a 12-2 run to finish the game Wednesday and knock off Dillon, S.C., 64-59, in the opening round.
The win improved the Knights to 3-6 and sends them into the second round Thursday against Scotland County at 8 p.m.
The Wildcats opened the game with a 4-0 run that West Bladen answered with its own 6-0 spurt on baskets by Scott Bowen, Trashawn Ballard and Tyre Boykin. Dillon took an 8-6 edge before Keshawn Lewis drained a three-pointer and the two teams all but traded points down the stretch — with the Knights getting a bucket from Lewis and Shyron Adams — and West Bladen took a 14-13 lead into the second quarter.
Dillon opened the period with a 6-0 run that gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game, 19-14, but three-pointers from Bowen, Jimmy Williams and Kerron Washington over the next few possessions allowed West Bladen to regain the lead at 28-24.
The Wildcats knotted the game at 28-28 with a 4-0 run, but Adams and Bowen each canned baskets and, despite a late bucket by Dillon, West Bladen went to halftime with a 32-30 edge.
“We played hard and didn’t have bad turnovers,” Knights coach Travis Pait said. “We did a lot of things right.”
They got more right in the second half.
West Bladen’s tenacious defense, non-stop energy and constant mass substitution began to wear down the Wildcats, who turned the ball over 10 times in the third quarter alone. Still, Dillon managed to outscore the Knights by a 10-6 margin until late in the period, when Jaheim Lesane and Williams each drained a three-pointer to put West Bladen up going into the fourth frame, 44-40.
Bowen canned a bucket to open the quarter and gave the Knights a 46-40 lead before the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to open a 50-46 advantage. West Bladen answered with a 6-0 spurt behind a basket and free throw from Boykin and three-pointer by Lesane for a 52-50 edge mid-way through the quarter.
Dillon countered with a 7-0 run to match its largest lead at 57-52, but West Bladen took over from there. Drew Harris got a bucket down low, Gerardo Reyes canned two free throws, Lewis hit a bucket and Adams drained three straight baskets to cap a 12-0 Knights run that sealed the win. Dillon put in a late basket to end the scoring.
“That right there … if we do that we can play with anybody,” Pait said after the game. “We have 10 starters who give us a lot of high energy.
“It’s a real good win for us,” he added. “Shyron (Adams) is a freshman, and the plays he made for us were big.”
Adams led 10 West Bladen scorers with 16 points, followed by Williams and Bowen with nine each. Lewis contributed eight points for the Knights.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.