DUBLIN — West Bladen High’s run in the state’s Class 2-A playoffs came to an end on Saturday when the Knights fells to Burlington Cummings High, 65-49, in the sectional finals.
The Cavaliers delivered a huge punch to the gut early in the second half and the Knights ever quite recovered after keeping the game close throughout the first half.
The Cavaliers opened the game on a 5-0 run, but West Bladen answered with a 7-0 spurt fueled by a 3-pointer by D.J. Mason and two buckets by Shaquan Whitfield. After a Cummings basket knotted the score at 7-7, the Knights went on a 5-0 run to take a 12-7 lead — but the Cavaliers finished the first quarter on a 7-0 burst that gave them a 14-12 edge going into the second stanza.
West Bladen found getting its offense to click difficult as Cummings got a hand on nearly ever pass and created turnover after turnover. But the Knights managed to regain the lead early in the second with a 4-0 run before the Cavaliers responded with a 6-0 spurt that gave them a lead they would never give up.
The two teams traded points deep into the half, but with Cummings holding a 25-20 edge, Mason broke free underneath the basket and delivered a monster dunk as the second quarter wound down. It was the spark West Bladen had been looking for, but halftime interrupted any potential momentum.
“The defense was doing fine,” West Bladen coach Travis Pait said at halftime. “We just have to do what we talked about on offense. We’ll be fine.”
The Cavaliers had other plans, however.
Cummings opened the second half with a basket to extend the lead to 27-22, but Devonta Smith nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 27-25 moments later.
That set off a Cavaliers explosion of five straight 3-pointers that pushed the lead nearly out of reach at 42-25. The Knights remained aggressive, and a Justin Gillespie bucket stopped the Cummings 15-0 run and started a 6-0 spurt by the Knights to cut the deficit to 42-31. But the Cavaliers answered with a 6-0 run of their own and finished the third quarter with a 48-33 lead.
Forced to foul throughout the fourth quarter, West Bladen scratched and clawed to within 12 before Pait raised the white flag and cleared his bench. In those final moments, Tavion Graham and Corbin Stanley each scored baskets for the Knights.
Cummings scored 17 points in the final 8 minutes of the game — 12 from the foul line.
“Those threes in the third quarter hurt,” Pait said. “We had a couple defensive breakdowns and they hit the shots. That’s a good team (Cummings).”
Mason led West Bladen with 12 points, while Smith added 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers. Nate Pryor added nine points and Whitfield scored eight for the Knights.
West Bladen finished the season 21-7.