ELIZABETHTOWN — It was a season of missed opportunities filled with what-ifs for the Eagles of East Bladen. And for coach Ken Cross, it was one of the most trying seasons of his long career.
“It was pretty tough,” he said about a season that saw East Bladen finish 6-17 overall and 3-11 in the Four County Conference. “We had a lot to overcome, but we really weren’t one of the better teams. We have several really athletic players, but our size, lack of toughness and inability to really play as a team hurt us.”
The Eagles didn’t have anyone averaging 10 points a game or better. Coming close was junior Ethan Hines at 9.9 points per game; senior J.R. Robinson at 9.8 points; and junior Eian Hines at 9.7 points. Junior Denzel Johnson averaged 7.6 points per game.
One of East Bladen’s biggest Achilles heels manifested itself at the free throw line, where the Eagles were one of the worst in the conference at 53 percent overall. As a team, East Bladen was just 201-of-380 at the stripe.
Robinson was the best from the charity stripe at 31-of-47 for 66 percent, followed by Johnson at 64 percent and junior Demetrius Wooten at 60 percent.
“We left a lot of points out there with missed free throws as well as missed layups,” Cross said. “If we’d been better in those two areas, we would have won a few more games.
“On top of that, we just had way too many turnovers in almost every game we played,” he added.
One bright spot for East Bladen came from beyond the three-point arc, where the Eagles drained a total of 141 long-range shots.
Leading the way was Johnson, who canned a total of 41 three-pointers. He was followed by Robinson with 31 and Ethan Hines with 21.
“Three-pointers both helped and hurt us,” Cross said. “We hit quite a few that kept us in games, but we also took too many when we had a good lead and missed. There’s never a good reason to launch a three-pointer late in the game with a lead.”
East Bladen will lose four seniors from the team to graduation this year — Chris Cromartie, Dayvon Powell, Robinson and Trevor Lloyd.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.