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NCHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball Play-offs: West Bladen (18-9) vs. Clinton (25-2) at Sampson Middle School

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The game that most West Bladen fans expected to see last week will take place Thursday night in Clinton as the Knights visit Dark Horse country for a second round NCHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball Play-off game.

The Knights missed an opportunity to play Clinton last week in the Four County Conference tournament final when East Bladen fired in 14 3-point baskets in an 83-80 overtime win.

Coach Travis Pait’s Knights regrouped and outlasted high-scoring First Flight 65-52 Tuesday night. Senior point guard Kalvin Page made 16 of 22 free throws and scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Knights. Senior Sayaun Dent added 12 points, and senior John Bowen posted a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds.

The Knights average 56 points per game but only give up 51 ppg. Dent scores 17.7 points per game, and John Bowen contributes 16.8 ppg. Page’s 26-point effort raised his average to 9 ppg, and junior forward Jonathan Robinson scores 5.1 ppg.

Coach Randy Jordan’s Dark Horses rolled through the Four County regular season and tournament unbeaten. Their only two losses were to Class 4A E. E. Smith 65-64 and to Jacksonville Northside.

The potent Dark Horse offense racks up 76 ppg, while the defense allows 54 ppg. Senior Jeremiah Pope leads Clinton with a 16.6 ppg average and adds 4.7 rebounds per game. Junior Dewan Lesane contributes 12 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Junior guard Kris Williams adds 11.9 points and 3.4 assists per game. Junior Trevor Leggett grabs 6.3 rebounds per game.

In their last meeting of the regular season, Clinton exploded for 50 second-half points to pull away from a 22-20 halftime lead and claim a 72-52 victory. Pope, Tyrion Wright and Williams scored 14 points each, and Lesane added 11. John Bowen threw in 24 points for West, Dent followed with 15 and Page had 11.

In their first meeting at West Bladen, Clinton won 52-51 courtesy of late baskets from Pope and Lesane. The Knights had trailed 27-9 and 40-23, before a 23-4 blitz propelled them into a 46-44 lead. Dent with 18 points, and John Bowen with 17 led the West offense.