ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen battled back from an early seven-point deficit and Messiah Leach dropped in a three-pointer with less than a minute to play Tuesday, giving the Eagles their third straight win and first Three Rivers Conference victory of the season, 42-41 over visiting East Columbus.
The win improves East Bladen to 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the conference.
The Eagles opened a 5-2 lead to start the game, fueled by a Sincere Smith three-pointer, but the Gators fought back to finish the first quarter with a 9-4 run and took an 11-9 edge into the second stanza.
East Columbus used an 8-5 burst to open a 19-14 advantage, but Leach drained a three-pointer that helped the Eagles stay within 23-21 going into halftime.
A quick 5-0 run gave the Gators a 28-21 lead early in the second half, but Adonis Avery hit a three-pointer for East Bladen to keep East Bladen within 30-26. Moments later, Avery hit another three-pointer that helped the Eagles use a 7-3 run to knot the game at 33-33 before the Gators got a late bucket and took a 35-33 edge into the fourth quarter.
Avery bombed in a pair of three-pointers that gave East Bladen a 39-38 lead midway through the period, but East Columbus managed to take a 41-39 lead about a minute later and things bogged down. As the clock ticked under a minute to play, Leach zeroed in from above the key and knocked down a three-pointer that turned out to be the game-winner for the Eagles.
Avery led East Bladen with 14 points, while Smith had another double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Leach contributed eight points.
East Bladen will travel to West Bladen on Friday for a Three Rivers Conference game at 8 p.m.