WHITEVILLE — An early spurt and late run carried the Wolfpack past visiting East Bladen on Friday in a non-conference matchup, 63-55.
The loss drops the Eagles to 4-4.
East Bladen was hamstrung from the start, playing without one of its leading scorers in Jaquan Jones, who suffered a high ankle sprain the day before against Clinton.
Whiteville jumped out in front early and took a 29-16 lead into intermission.
But the Eagles came out of halftime refocused and began to chip away at the deficit. Farrell Murchison took the team on his back in the third quarter, canning a couple of three-pointers and scoring 15 points to pull East Bladen back to with 39-34 after three quarters of play.
Over the final 8 minutes, the Eagles sent the home team to the free throw line a whopping 23 times, where the Wolfpack managed to hit just enough of them. East Bladen, sparked by Alex Stephens’ seven-point effort, narrowed the gap to 51-50 with 2 minutes left in the game before Murchison went to the bench with five fouls and Whiteville began hitting foul shots.
Murchison led East Bladen with 20 points.
— A hard-fought rally by East Bladen through the middle part of Thursday’s Four County Conference game in Elizabethtown was beat back by visiting Clinton, and the Dark Horses rode home a 53-40 win.
Clinton used its superior size inside to pull away from an early 5-5 knot, finishing the first quarter with a 16-11 run to take a 21-16 lead.
In the second quarter, Alex Stephens canned a three-pointer that sparked a 9-2 Eagles spurt early and closed the gap to 26-25. But a Clinton bomb sent the Dark Horses into halftime with a 29-25 edge.
Another three-pointer by Stephens early in the second half pulled East Bladen to within 31-28, but the Dark Horses answered with a 13-4 run to finish the third quarter with a 44-32 lead.
That momentum continued in the fourth quarter. Clinton opened the period with a 5-0 spurt and never looked back, outscoring the Eagles by a slim 9-8 margin to seal the win.
“Clinton is a very good team,” East Bladen coach Ken Cross said. “We had to play a superior game to have a chance.”
Stephens led East Bladen with 12 points, while Farrell Murchison and Eian Hines each scored 10 points. Josh McMillian had 10 rebounds and three blocks for the Eagles, while Hines added nine boards.