DUBLIN — A game that featured 67 turnovers, a blown double-digit lead, several injuries, four girls fouling out, incredibly poor officiating and even turned into more of a rugby match than a basketball game between the Lady Knights and visiting South Robeson went down to the wire before West Bladen took a 46-44 Three Rivers Conference win.
The Lady Knights improved to 5-11 overall and 3-8 in the conference.
West Bladen played its first 16 minutes like it was going to run away with the ‘W,” taking advantage 12 Lady Mustang turnovers. After a basket by the Lady Mustangs to open the game, Patience Parker canned a bucket and free throw, and Kasee Singletary hit a basket to give West a 6-2 lead. After a South Rob basket, the Lady Knights went on a 7-0 run behind a three-pointer by Conner Brisson and baskets by Singletary and Elizabeth Allbright for a 13-4 edge.
South Robeson hit a free throw, but Seniah Johnson drained a three-pointer followed by baskets from Singletary and Allbright to finish the first quarter with West Bladen up, 20-11.
South Rob opened the second quarter with two buckets and held West Bladen scoreless for the first 2:20. But Mikayla Winebarger dropped in a shot and Singletary followed with a basket to keep the Lady Knights ahead, 24-15. After a Lady Mustangs basket, Brisson nailed a three-pointer and Parker canned two free throws to open a 29-17 lead. The visitors canned a bucket at the end of the half, but West Bladen took a 10-point lead into the intermission.
In the first half, South Robeson had turned the ball over 25 times, while the lady Knights had committed just five miscues.
“The first half was one of our better halves of the season,” West Bladen coach Brian McLeney said.
But things were about to change.
South Robeson opened the second half employing a full-court press and it bothered the Lady Knights into 10 turnovers over the next eight minutes. The lady Mustangs went on a 6-2 run early in the third quarter before Allbright sank two free throws and Johnson buried a basket to keep West Bladen up, 35-25.
But the visitors put together a wild 11-0 burst that was highlighted by several free-for-alls and gave the lady Mustangs a 36-35 edge late in the quarter. Allbright stopped the bleeding with a free throw before South Rob got a basket to finish the third quarter leading, 38-36.
The Lady Mustangs extended their lead to 41-36 to start the fourth frame and held West Bladen scoreless for 2:32 before Parker dropped in a pair of baskets to get the Lady Knights back to within 41-40. South Rob hit a free throw before Nyasia Ellison canned a bucket and Parker hit two free throws to give West Bladen the lead at 44-42.
The two teams each hit a pair of free throws down the stretch — with Parker and Carley Dawson hitting for the lady Knights — and West Bladen escaped with the win. Parker was 5-for-6 at the line in the quarter.
“We lost focus (in the second half),” McLeney said. “It’s something we’ve talked about all season. They (South Robeson) made some plays, but we lost our focus.”
West Bladen had 21 turnovers in the second half.
“The effort was there and thankfully things went our way in a close game,” he added. “It was a little tougher being without Chasitty (Lacey), who has the flu.”
The Lady Knights also lost Singletary, who left the game with a concussion.
Parker led West Bladen with 12 points, while Allbright and Singletary each scored 10 points.
The lady Knights will play at Whiteville on Friday at 8 p.m. in a conference game.