RICHLANDS — East Bladen clawed itself out of a 16-point deficit in the second half Saturday to send the third round of the state’s Class 2-A East playoff tilt against Richlands into overtime, but the Lady Eagles ran out of steam and fell, 93-82.
The loss ends East Bladen’s season at 27-2.
The Lady Eagles, and Sharjdajah Brown in particular, came out fast, opening the game with a 9-5 run behind three baskets and a three-pointer by Brown. She hit another three-pointer in the first quarter, Erica McKoy added a basket and Ashley Hardin dropped in a three-pointer, but the Lady Wildcats won the second half of the period, 10-8, and trailed by just 17-15 going into the second stanza.
McKoy canned a bucket to open the quarter and send East Bladen off on an 8-4 spurt for a 25-19 edge. But a 6-0 run by Richlands knotted the game before Patience Ward hit a free throw and Brown dropped in a bucket to regain the lead for the Lady Eagles, 28-25.
The Lady Wildcats answered with a 7-0 spurt to open a 32-28 lead, then finished the half withe a 6-4 advantage to carry a 38-32 lead into halftime.
“Shardajah really took things on her shoulders and show real senior leadership,” East Bladen coach Patty Evers said of Brown’s 18 first-half points.
Richlands opened the second half with a 6-0 spurt to open a 44-32 lead and held East Bladen without a point through the first 3:08 of the third quarter, when Ward canned a pair of free throws followed by a basket by Brown that cut the deficit to 44-36. After a Lady Wildcats free throw, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson canned a bucket just ahead of an 8-0 run by Richlands that put the Lady Wildcats up 53-38.
Ward canned a free throw for East Bladen, but Richlands nailed a basket for its biggest lead of the game at 55-39. Moore-Peterson drained a three-pointer for the Lady Eagles and, after a Richlands bucket, East Bladen finished the quarter with a 4-0 spurt on baskets by McKoy and Ward to slice the gap to 57-46.
After the Lady Wildacts opened the fourth frame with a basket, East Bladen went on a 12-6 run behind a three-pointer, basket and three free throws by Moore-Peterson to pull within 65-58. Richlands hit a bucket and McKoy answered with a basket to keep East Bladen close — then the Lady Eagles went on a 5-2 spurt and a pair of baskets by Ward and a free throw from McKoy to close the gap to 69-65.
After Richlands hit a free throw and basket, Moore-Peterson dropped in a three-pointer for the Lady Eagles and, after the Lady Wildcats answered with a bucket, East Bladen finished a frenetic fourth quarter with a 7-1 burst to knot the game at 75-75. Richlands had two chances as time drained away, but both came up empty.
The Lady Wildcats took a brief lead in overtime with a free throw, but East Bladen got two free throws from Katie Evans that gave the Lady Eagles a 77-76 lead. It would be their last.
Richlands went on a 6-0 burst and, after a bucket by Moore-Peterson, the Lady Wildcats all but sealed the win with a 5-0 run for a 87-79 lead. McKoy canned a bucket, but Richlands went on a 6-0 run before McKoy got East Bladen’s last point of the game and season with a free throw.
“I’m proud of the girls; we had a really good season,” Evers said. “To go to overtime against that team …
“We got in foul trouble and just didn’t make our free throws when we needed,” she added. “And turnovers and missed shots hurt us again.”
Brown led East Bladen with 23 points and completed her double-double with 12 rebounds. Moore-Peterson also scored 23 points for the Lady Eagles. Ward just missed a double-double with 16 points, nine steals and seven rebounds before fouling out; McKoy scored 14 points with eight rebounds; and Hardin hand five assists.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.