LAKE WACCAMAW — East Bladen found itself in an early 20-point hole it couldn’t climb out of, and a late rally came up short as the Eagles lost a Three Rivers Conference tilt at East Columbus, 61-51.
The loss drops East Bladen to 5-16 overall, 3-13 in the conference.
The Gators opened the game with a 15-6 run through the first quarter as the Eagles hit just two shots — three-pointers by Messiah Leach and Sincere Smith.
East Columbus continued its hot hand in the second stanza, draining four three-pointers and outscoring the visitors by a 21-10 margin and taking a 36-16 advantage into halftime. Deondre Newkirk canned a three-pointer for East Bladen in the quarter.
Smith erupted for nine points in the third quarter, including a three-pointer, and Adonis Avery contributed a three-pointer for East Bladen as the Eagles outscored the Gators by a 24-14 verdict and whittled the deficit down to 50-34.
East Bladen’s comeback try continued into the fourth frame, as Newkirk and Avery each hit another three-pointer, but the rally ran out of time. The Eagles outscored East Columbus 17-11 down the stretch.
Smith led East Bladen with 16 points, while Newkirk added 10 points and Avery contributed 10 points.
The Eagles will host South Robeson on Tuesday in a conference game at 8 p.m.