DUBLIN — West Bladen dug itself out of a double-digit deficit early in the game Monday and handed Whiteville a 68-52 win in the opening round of the fourth annual Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament at West Bladen.
The Wolfpack jumped out to a quick 15-4 lead behind long-range shooting and took a 19-10 lead into the second quarter.
That advantage grew to 22-10 to start the period, but the Knights rallied with a 12-0 burst behind six points from Shaquille Johnson and a three-pointer by John Bowen that knotted the game at 22-22. Sayaun Dent finished the half with an old-fashioned three-point play and gave West Bladen a 31-28 lead going into halftime.
“The press bothered us early, but I knew once we settled down we’d be OK,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait.
The Knights opened the second half with a 9-2 spurt behind a three-pointer from Johnson and some stiff defense. West Bladen finished the third quarter trading points with Whiteville and maintained the lead at 44-34.
West Bladen got off to an 8-2 run to open the final 8 minutes and finished the game happy to trade points, sealing the 13-point win.
“Sayaun (Dent) by far played the best game of his career,” Pait said. “And I was happy to see the kids settle down and come from behind like that.”
Dent had a double-double for West Bladen, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Johnson also posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Bowen contributed 11 points for the Knights.