ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen fought back from an early 18-4 deficit with a huge second quarter to knock off visiting Reidsville on Saturday in the third round of the state’s Class 2-A playoffs, 59-37.
The No. 1 seed Lady Eagles got 31 points from Lacey Suggs and 21 from Abby Ward to improve to 30-0 and gain a berth in the East Region semifinals at home Tuesday, while the No. 9 seed Lady Rams had their nine-game winning streak snapped and finished the season at 15-12.
Reidsville jumped all over the Lady Eagles with a 6-0 spurt to start the game. East Bladen’s first points came nearly 4 minutes into the first quarter on a bucket by Suggs. The Lady Rams increased their lead to 9-2 before Ward canned a basket, but Reidsville closed out the opening period with a 7-0 run for a 16-4 edge.
The Lady Rams hit a basket 10 seconds into the second stanza to open their largest lead of the game, but it would be the last basket the visitors would get for 6:36, thanks to a defense that forced Reidsville into 13 turnovers. East Bladen went on on a 23-0 run that featured a pair of three-pointers from Ward along with 13 points from Suggs — giving the Lady Eagles a 31-19 advantage going into halftime.
“We played their game in the first quarter,” said East Bladen coach Patty Evers.”We looked shellshocked.
“I asked them at the end of the first quarter: Do you want this to be your last game?” she added. “We started rebounding and playing our game.”
That continued into the second half, too.
The Lady Eagles opened the third quarter with a 6-2 run on a basket by Emily Scott, a basket by Suggs and free throws by Ward. After the Lady Rams hit a free throw, Suggs buried four straight free throws and Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson added a free throw to put East Bladen up, 42-22. The Lady Rams connected on two free throws to close the third quarter trailing by 18.
Suggs’ basket to open the fourth frame started a 9-0 Lady Eagles run before Reidsville drained a three-pointer 3:08 into the quarter. Nobody could find the basket until the Lady Rams hit another three-pointer 1:22 later to cut the deficit to 51-30.
Ward canned a free throw and Suggs added a pair of free throws as East Bladen went into a slow-down. Reidsville canned three free throws before Ward buried a bucket and a Suggs basket was sandwiched between two Lady Rams’ free throws and an old-fashioned three-point play to end the game.
“We wore them down, and we had too because of their size,” Evers said. We also knew they weren’t very deep.
“This is such a good group,” she added. “They deserve to be going to the regionals. We look forward to playing at home in front of our fans.”
Suggs’ 31 points included 13-for-16 from the line — where she is now 48-of-55 in the playoffs — and increased her career points total to 2,101. Suggs also had a double-double Saturday with 13 rebounds and added four steals.
Ward’s 21points included a trio of three-pointers and she was 4-for-5 from the line. Ward also added eight steals and six rebounds.
Christiana Cromartie contributed five rebounds and two blocked shots, while Scott added five rebounds and Moore-Peterson had two steals.