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NCHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball Play-offs: Clinton 50, West Bladen 45

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CLINTON – Clinton pounded the backboards for 14 rebounds in the final quarter to pull out a 50-45 victory over West Bladen Thursday night in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 2A Boys Basketball Play-offs.

The Knights held a 25-22 rebounding edge and trailed only 31-29 entering the final quarter, but a trio of Clinton rebound baskets and a 14-3 advantage on the boards keyed the Dark Horse victory.

“Not enough box-outs,” said West Bladen Coach Travis Pait. “If we box-out better, we win.”

Guard Kris Williams drove for a 3-point play to start the final quarter, then traded free throws with West Bladen senior Kalvin Page, before senior Jeremiah Pope drilled a 3-point shot for a 38-30 Clinton lead with 4:38 remaining.

Senior John Bowen canned 2 free throws for West, but Clinton’s Prentiss Murphy put back a rebound. John Bowen flipped in a reverse lay-up, but Jaden Bell put back another rebound basket to keep the margin at 42-34 with 2:24 on the clock.

John Bowen bombed in a 3-point shot to trim the lead to 42-37, but Dewan Lesane drove for a lay-up then tapped in a follow for a 46-37 lead with 1:20 left.

Senior Sayaun Dent sank 2 free throws, but Tyrion Wright hit two foul shots for Clinton. Junior Scott Bowen scored on a follow shot, and John Bowen nailed a long 3-pointer to pull West to within 48-44 with 13 seconds remaining

Williams and John Bowen traded free throws as the clock ran out on the Knights.

John Bowen topped the Knight scoring with 20 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Dent who was too sick to practice earlier in the week and wasn’t at full strength Thursday still posted a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Scott Bowen pulled down 5 rebounds.

Kris Williams topped the Clinton scoring with 16 points. Pope connected on a trio of 3-point shots and followed with 11 points. Lesane added 10 points.

Williams threw in 7 early points, and Lesane dropped in a pair of lay-ups as the Dark Horses built an early 11-4 lead. John Bowen delivered a corner 3-ball for the first Knight points, and Dent hit a free throw. Pope beat the buzzer with a long 3-pointer to stretch the Clinton lead to 14-4 at the quarter break.

Bowen turned a Dent assist into a lay-in then fired in a 3-point basket that cut the lead to 14-9. Williams keyed an 8-2 Clinton spurt that grew the lead to 22-11. Junior Jonathan Robinson popped in a 15-footer for the Knight basket.

Dent put back a rebound basket, and John Bowen canned a 15-footer from the left elbow to pull the Knights to within 22-15 at halftime.

John Bowen started the second half with a follow shot, an Robinson hurled in a left-handed runner to pull West to within 22-19. Pope launched another 3-ball, but Page scooped in a lay-up to keep the margin at 25-21.

Wright hit 2 free throws then bulled over a defender for a basket and a 29-22 lead.

Dent made 2 free throws, then knocked down a 3-point shot to pull West to within 31-27. John Bowen sank 2 technical free throws to close the gap to 31-29.

“This is the best group of kids – the nicest – that I have ever coached,” said Coach Pait. “No problems at school. They are going to be wonderful husbands and fathers.”

The Knights finished their season with an 18-10 record, while Clinton will host Ayden-Grifton in a third-round game Saturday.

WEST BLADEN (45) – Kalvin Page 5, Scott Bowen 2, Jimmy Williams, Keshawn Lewis, Drew Harris, Sayaun Dent 14, Geraldo Reyes, Jonathan Robinson 4, John Bowen 20.