Eagles hold off First Flight, 75-63

DUBLIN — East Bladen withstood a barrage of three-pointers by a launch-em-from-anywhere First Flight squad toknock off the Knighthawks, 75-63, in the fifth-place game of the Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament.

The win s the Eagles’ second straight after opening the season with an eight-game skid.

First Flight opened the game with two straight three-pointers, but East Bladen answered with a basket by Sincere Smith and one from Keshaun Davis. After another three-point bomb by the Hawks, Davis and Bryan Bowen each dropped in a bucket to keep East Bladen within 9-8.

But the bombs kept coming.

The Nighthawks hit another three-pointer and added a free throw to open a 13-8 edge, but East Bladen went on a 6-0 run on baskets by Robert Cooley, Smith and Messiah Leach to edge in front 14-13. First Flight, though, drained its fifth three-pointer of the quarter and added a bucket to carry a 19-14 lead into the second quarter.

The lead went to 21-14 early in the period before Smith and Davis each canned a basket for the Eagles. Another three fell for the Hawks and, after Smith dropped in a free throw, First Flight canned a pair of baskets to open a 28-19 lead.

Then things changed.

East Bladen went on an 18-3 run to finish the half — led by five points from Bowen, four from Smith and a three=pointer by Adonis Avery — and took a 37-31 advantage into halftime.

The third quarter was all three-pointers from First Flight — six of the long-range kind and one the old-fashioned type — but the Eagles used an early 8-0 run on two baskets each from Smith and Leach to offset the barrage. The Nighthawks managed to outscore East Bladen by a 21-16 margin, but still trailed going into the fourth quarter, 53-52.

Bowen knocked down a basket to start the final period for the Eagles, but First Flight knotted the game at 55-55 with a three-pointer. After a bucket by Avery for East Bladen, the Hawks used a basket and free throw to take a one-point edge — and the Eagles responded with another 8-0 run on baskets by Smith, Bowen and Davis, along with two free throws by Bowen to open a 65-58 lead. midway through the quarter.

First Flight put together a 5-2 burst to close the gap to 67-63, but East Bladen finished the game with an 8-0 run on a basket and four free throws from Avery and a bucket by Leach to seal the game.

“We’re playing more as a team the last two games and with some discipline,” said East Bladen coach Kenzil McCall. “When they do that, it makes (coaches) jobs a lot easier.

“I told Sincere (after Wednesday’s loss) that to turn this around, you have to lead us,” McCall added. “And to see the kids weather the storm (of three-pointers) was good for us.”

Smith led East Bladen with 19 points, while Bowen contributed 17 points and Avery added 17 points.

The Eagles will return to Three Rivers Conference action Tuesday by hosting East Columbus at 8 p.m.