DUBLIN — West Bladen turned an early deficit into a huge halftime lead and put four players in double figures for a 69-54 win over visiting Heidi Trask in the first round of the Four County Conference Tournament on Tuesday.
The win improved the Knights to 17-8 and sent them into the second round against East Bladen on Thursday at Pender County High.
The Titans used a 9-3 run to open the game, as West Bladen could manage only free throws by Sayaun Dent, but the Knights completed the period with a 9-5 burst to pull within 14-12. Dent added an old-fashioned three-point play and got baskets from Kalvin Page, Scott Bowen and Jonathan Robinson in the quarter.
Where West Bladen couldn’t get much to fall in the first quarter, everything seemed to fall for the Knights in the second stanza.
After Heidi Trask extended the lead to 16-12, Dent hit a bucket and Jimmy Williams buried a three-pointer and bucket to fuel a 7-0 run and give West Bladen a 19-16 lead — one they would never relinquish.
John Bowen’s first basket for the Knights was sandwiched between two free throws and a bucket by the Titans, but West Bladen then went on a 12-0 spurt highlighted by a three-pointer and two jumpers from John Bowen for a 33-20 lead going into the intermission.
“We played hard that first quarter, but we just had to figure some things out and see what they were giving us,” West Bladen coach Travis Pait said.
The Bowens were about to take over — with John Bowen scoring 12 and Scott Bowen four key points in the third quarter.
Heidi Trask opened the second half by draining a three-pointer and, after a bucket by John Bowen, went on a 6-0 run to pull within 35-29. Bowen hit another jumper and, after Trask hit two baskets, he slammed home a dunk and added a basket for a 41-31 lead. Following a Titans basket, Dent and John Bowen buried shots to keep West Bladen up 45-33 and, after the visitors sandwiched baskets around a bucket by Scott Bowen, John Bowen dropped in two free throws and Scott Bowen put back a lay-up at the buzzer to give the Knights a 51-37 advantage.
Scott Bowen and Page each hit jumpers to open the fourth frame to bump West Bladen’s lead to 55-37, then Drew Harris followed a Titans bucket with a put-back before Heidi Trask went on a 8-0 run to pull within 57-47 and force a timeout by Pait.
The Knights came out of the timeout and went on a 6-2 spurt on a basket by Page and free throws by Robinson, Page and Williams. Heidi Trask hit a bucket, but West Bladen went on a 6-0 run on a basket by Robinson and a bucket and two free throws from Page. The Titans hit a meaningless three-pointer as the clock wound down.
“(The Knights) got after it tonight,” Pait said. “We guarded well in the man defense and we competed from beginning to end.
“Scott (Bowen) and Geraldo gave us a big lift,” he added. “This was a good win for us.”
John Bowen led West Bladen with 24 points, while Dent contributed 12 points, Page added 11 points and Scott Bowen had 10 points.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.