ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen survived a paltry 14-of-35 night from the free throw line, including 10 straight missed in the second half, to knock off the visiting Knights on Monday in the Four County Conference’s regular-season finale, 58-54.
The Eagles improved to 13-9 overall and 8-6 in the conference, while West Bladen fell to 14-10 overall and 8-6 in the conference.
The Knights opened the game with a 9-2 spurt behind a pair of baskets by Rahu Purdie, a bucket by Brandon Council and a three-pointer by Malcolm Vaught. But East Bladen answered with a 9-2 run of its own when Alex Stephens buried three straight three-pointers that knotted the game at 11-11.
Stfan McDonald and Xavier McKoy each hit a free throw for the Knights and Ethan Hines canned a basket to end the first quarter with the score still tied at 13-13.
East Bladen opened the second stanza with a 9-3 spurt behind a free throw by Jaquan Jones, an old-fashioned three-point play by Monterro Graham., a basket by Jones, free throw by Hines and bucket by Eian Hines. But the Knights answered with a 6-0 run on baskets by Purdie, McDonald and McKoy to knot the game at 22-22.
The Eagles stopped the bleeding with a free throw by Jones and a basket by Dayvon Powell before Vaught hit another three-pointer with 6 second left in the half to tie the game up 25-25 going into halftime.
Vaught started the second half with a basket for West Bladen, but Powell and Ethan Hines each sank baskets for east Bladen before the Knights went on a 6-2 spurt on a pair of baskets by McKoy and a bucket by Corbin Stanley. The Eagles answered with another three-pointer by Stephens and free throws by Ethan Hines and Graham to take a 37-33 lead, but West Bladen closed the third quarter with a 5-0 run on baskets by McDonald and Vaught, and a free throw from Edward Owens that gave the Knights a 38-37 edge.
The Knights’ run continued into the fourth quarter when they scored the first five points — all by McDonald on two baskets and a free throw — to open a 43-37 lead. But East Bladen responded with an 8-0 spurt on a pair of baskets by Jones, one from Stephens and free throws by Davonta Smith and Jones that gave the home team a 45-43 lead.
West Bladen never got closer.
After East Bladen moved out to a 56-48 lead behind a three-pointer by Farrell Murchison, West Bladen three-pointers by Stanley and Vaught were sandwiched around a basket by Eian Hines that all but seal the win.
“We battled and played hard,” said East Bladen coach Ken Cross. “We didn’t shoot free throws well, but we almost never do. Alex shot the ball well (from the three-point line) early and then did a good job inside late in the game.”
Stephens led East Bladen with 14 points behind four three-pointers, while Jones scored 11 points and Ethan Hines had nine.
Vaught led West Bladen with 15 points behind a trio of three-pointers, while McDonald added 10 points and nine rebounds. Owens had seven rebounds.