WILMINGTON — The Lady Eagles of east Bladen used a tough second-half defense and got some much-needed senior leadership to knock off Ashley High on Tuesday in a non-conference tilt, 52-39.
The win kept the Lady Eagles perfect on the season at 7-0 and dropped Ashley to 2-2.
The Lady Screaming Eagles of Ashley came out of the gate quickly and flew out to a 13-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.
But East Bladen began to turn the tables in the second stanza, outscoring Ashley by a 17-10 margin and cutting the deficit to just 23-22 by intermission.
The second half proved to be the difference maker, as the Lady Eagles came out of halftime and put the defensive clamps on the Ashley offense.
The two teams traded leads through the first half of the third quarter, but East Bladen finished the third quarter with a 6-2 spurt for a 35-31 edge.
The Lady Eagles went on a 6-2 run to start the fourth frame and extended their lead to 41-33, but Ashley answered with a 6-0 spurt to cut the deficit to 41-37 before Lacey Suggs drained four free throws to build the lead back to eight at 45-37 midway into the fourth quarter.
After East Bladen’s lead went to 10, the two teams traded points down the stretch, allowing the Lady Eagles to seal the 13-point win. Suggs and Abby Ward combined for 15 points in the final 8 minutes for East Bladen.
“We just played together and didn’t quit,” said East Bladen coach Patty Evers. “That was the best team we played all year; (Lacey and Abby) really showed their patience and senior leadership,
“Everyone was enthusiastic, including the bench, and that’s what it takes,” she added.
Evers also had high praise for her younger players.
“Our freshmen stepped up in a big way,” she said. “They are still young and learning, but they made some plays that made a difference.”
Suggs led the Lady Eagles with a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds. Ward contributed 11 points with seven boards, six steals and five assists.
East Bladen will open Four County Conference play on the road at Midway on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.