LAKE WACCAMAW — John Bowen, fresh off his dramatic, game-winning three-pointer to give West Bladen the Woodman Life Christmas Tournament title, poured in 21 points on Monday to lead the Knights past South Columbus in the opening game of the East Columbus Christmas Tournament, 53-30.
West Bladen opened the game with a three-pointer from Stefan McDonald and went on to hold a 9-6 edge when the first quarter closed.
In the second period, the Knights started things with a 12-2 spurt — highlighted by a steal and dunk by McDonald — to extend the advantage to 21-8. The Stallions edged back into the game by finishing the first half with a 5-1 burst and trailed by 22-13 at intermission.
The third quarter belonged to Bowen.
The West Bladen junior canned a trio of baskets, one of which also earned him a trip to the free throw stripe for a three-point play, and also buried a three-pointer en route to a 10-point third quarter. The Knights added nine points to that and took a 41-17 lead after outscoring South Columbus 19-4 during the quarter.
Bowen canned another three-pointer in the fourth frame and added a thunderous dunk moments later as West Bladen cruised through the final 8 minutes for the 23-point win.
“After a big week last week, we were a little worried about the team’s focus this week,” said West Bladen coach Travis Pait. “But the focus was there and we played well, especially in the second half. I was really happy with how we defended.”
Bowen’s 21 points led the Knights, while McDonald followed with 14 points and four steals. Sayaun Dent pulled down a team-high eight boards.
West Bladen will face South Robeson in the title game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.