BURGAW — A huge game by J.R. Robinson couldn’t deliver a win for East Bladen on the road against Pender County on Friday. Nor could it overshadow the fact that several varsity players had been removed from the roster earlier in the day.
Prior to the Eagles’ 74-52 loss to the Patriots, all but two of East Bladen’s varsity players were left home after a meeting among school and athletic representatives. There were no details given about the meeting, but when the Eagles took the floor Friday, only Robinson and Trevor Lloyd remained from the original varsity roster.
Instead, coach Ken Cross pulled five players from the jayvee team up to varsity.
“I really can’t say anything much about it, except that it was an administrative decision,” Cross said. “It was a one-game thing; we’re moving forward from here.”
Robinson took advantage of his new leadership role, opening the game with a pair of three-pointers to give East Bladen an early 6-0 edge. Lloyd also buried a three-pointer and Robinson added two baskets in the first quarter to lift the Eagles to within one at 14-13.
Robinson launched two more three-pointers that fell in the second quarter and tallied 12 points, while Messiah Leach drained a three-pointer for East Bladen. But Pender County outscored the Eagles by a 25-19 margin to take a 39-32 lead into halftime.
The Patriots kept the momentum going their way in the third quarter, outscoring East Bladen by a 22-10 margin and opening up a 61-42 advantage. Anthony Wooten got in on the three-point action for the Eagles, hitting a pair in the third period.
In the final frame, Robinson and Wooten each hit tree-pointers, but Pender County sealed the 22-point win with a 13-10 fourth quarter.
Robinson scored 27 points in the game — 22 in the first half — with five tree-pointers to lead East Bladen, while Wooten added 10 points and Leach scored eight.
East Bladen falls to 5-13 overall and 2-8 in the conference.