DUBLIN — Huge offensive runs supported by a stiff defense that forced 23 turnovers led the visiting Lady Eagles of East Bladen to their 17th straight win, 46-16 over Four County Conference foe West Bladen on Tuesday.
The win improved East Bladen to 17-0 overall and 7-0 in the conference. The Lady Knights fell to 5-10 overall and 3-3 in the conference.
The Lady Eagles opened the game with a 10-0 spurt behind two baskets and two free throws by Lacey Suggs, and buckets by Christiana Cromartie and Emily Scott.
West Bladen stopped the bleeding when Laikyn Pait scored the Lady Knights’ first points with a basket just 43 seconds before the first quarter ended. Ashley Hardin canned a bucket for East Bladen just before the period expired to give the Lady Eagles a 12-2 lead.
East Bladen all but put the game out of reach in the second stanza when a 19-0 burst opened a 31-2 lead. Abby Ward and Suggs each tallied a trio of baskets in the run and Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson hit three baskets and a free throw. Pait again kept West Bladen from being shut out in the quarter by draining a long-range three-pointer with 24 seconds left in the half, sending the Lady Knights into intermission trailing 31-5.
“We’ve got to calm down out there, slow the pace and stop passing up shots,” said West Bladen coach Rick Rhoda. “Their pressure really rattled us. We know what to do, now we just have to do it.”
Christiana Cromartie, who blocked six shots in the first half for East Bladen, opened the second half with a basket. Erika McKoy answered with a bucket for the Lady Knights, but a basket by Ward and free throws by Suggs, Moore-Peterson and Hardin put East Bladen on a 7-0 burst for a 40-7 lead. Logan Autry stopped the Lady Eagles’ run with a basket, but Suggs responded with a bucket just before the third quarter ended with East Bladen up, 42-9.
Cromartie and Suggs sank baskets to open the fourth frame and gave the Lady Eagles a 46-9 advantage before West Bladen finished the game with a 7-0 spurt on a pair of baskets by Pait and a three-pointer by Akira Grimes.
“I’m happy overall, but we told them they have to be smarter with passes,” said East Bladen coach Patty Evers. “When we take our press off, it takes us out of our offense, and our press helps generate points. We got too complacent.
“We hustled, but each player has got to get better,” she added. “We won’t go any further (in the playoffs) than we did last year unless we start making fewer mistakes.”
Suggs led East Bladen with 18 points and added eight rebounds. Ward contributed eight points, nine assists and eight steals, while Moore-Peterson also scored eight points. Scott tallied seven rebounds, Hardin added eight rebounds, and Cromartie had nine rebounds and nine blocks.
Pait led West Bladen with nine points and grabbed five rebounds, while Grimes added seven rebounds.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.