DUBLIN — East Bladen withstood an avalanche of three-pointers from West Bladen and used a strong second half to rally from a 24-point deficit to earn a 59-56 Three Rivers Conference win on Tuesday.
The Eagles improved to 4-11 overall and 2-8 in the conference, while the Knights fell to 3-12 and 0-9.
West Bladen opened the game on fire from beyond the three-point arc. Jimmy Williams almost couldn’t miss as he buried four long-range shots and, along with a three-pointer from Shyron Adams, the Knights went on an 18-4 run through the first quarter. East Bladen didn’t score its first point until the 5:00 mark on a bucket by Javant McDowell — and didn’t score again for the next 3:38 when Sincere Smith dropped in a bucket.
The momentum stayed with West Bladen in the second quarter, as Keshawn Lewis and Adams each drained a pair of three-pointers as the Knights built a 36-12 lead late in the half and went on to carry a 38-18 advantage into halftime. Drew Harris dropped in a pair of baskets for West Bladen in the period, while McDowell scored eight points for East Bladen.
The tabled turned in a big way after the intermission.
The Eagles got a basket from Messiah Leach and a three-pointer from Adonis Avery to open the second half, but West Bladen got a free throw from Lewis and a bucket by Jonathan Robinson to maintain a 41-23 lead. And then it all went cold for the Knights.
East Bladen went on a 13-0 run fueled by a pair of three-pointers from Leach and a three-pointer from Avery that pulled the Eagles to within 41-36. A free throw by Tyre Boykin stopped the bleeding for West Bladen, but the Eagles finished the third quarter with a5-0 spurt on a bucket and free throw from Sincere Smith and basket from McDowell that cut the deficit to 42-41.
Kerron Washington opened the fourth frame with a three-pointer for West Bladen, but the Eagles got a basket from Keshaun Davis and Leach to knot the game at 45-45. Lewis gave the Knights a 48-45 lead with a three-pointer, but East Bladen answered with a 7-0 run that gave the Eagles their first lead of the game midway through the quarter, 52-48.
Williams dropped in a pair of free throws for West Bladen, but Smith battled inside for two baskets that gave the Eagles a 56-51 lead. Lewis responded with his fourth three-pointer of the game to pull the Knights to within 56-54, but the visitors got a basket from McDowell and, after a Lewis basket for the Knights, a free throw by Avery to seal the game.
“We had to do something after that first half they had, so we went to a man defense and the kids came out with some big effort,” said East Bladen coach Kenzil McCall. “I got on them pretty good at halftime and they responded.
“I think Javant got a lot of confidence back after the game he had,” McCall added.
The Eagles got balanced scoring, with Avery and McDowell each pumping in 14 points, while Smith scored 11 points and Leach added 10 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
“We shot an unbelievable percentage in the first half,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait. “(But) they just beat us in the second half. We had some late chances, but just couldn’t get anything to go.”
Williams led the Knights with 16 points, while Lewis contributed 15 points. Adams added nine points.
West Bladen hit 12 three-pointers in the game, while East Bladen connected on four. Both teams left a number of points on the floor from the free throw line, as the Eagles were 3-of-12 and the Knights were 6-of-17.
East Bladen will host Red Springs on Friday at 8 p.m., while West Bladen will travel to take on East Columbus on Friday at 8 p.m. Both are conference tilts.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.