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Middle School Boys Basketball: Tar Heel 41, East Arcadia 35

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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

CLARKTON – Kendall Johnson posted a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds to lead Tar Heel to a 41-35 victory Monday night over East Arcadia in the opening round of the Bladen Five Middle School Boys Tournament.

Teammate Khalil Lloyd finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds, while center Kai Belle grabbed 11 rebounds and tallied 6 points. Antonio Candelaria pulled down 12 rebounds and added 4 steals and 4 points for Tar Heel. Tar Heel out-rebounded East Arcadia 44-21.

Long led East Arcadia with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Teammate Emanuel Lewis finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds, and Roderick Grainger followed with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Kari Price grabbed 4 rebounds, and Corey Robbins scored 4 points.

Belle turned a Jordan Underwood assist into the first Tar Heel basket, before teammate Khalil Lloyd banked in a 3-pointer then scored in transition. Kendall Johnson and Lloyd added free throws as Tar Heel jumped out to a 9-0 lead.

Cody Long drilled in a 3-point shot from the top of the key for the first East Arcadia basket. Johnson answered with a driving lay-up for an 11-3 lead at the quarter break.

Johnson started the second period with a lay-up, popped in a 16-footer and put back a rebound, and Candelaria scooped in a baseline runner as the Tar Heel lead grew to 19-3.

Long drove for a lay-up that resulted in a 3-point play then put back a rebound. Grainger and Lewis drained 3-point shots to cap an 11-0 East Arcadia run that sliced the lead to 19-14.

Johnson began the second half with a driving lay-up, and Lloyd and Belle put back rebound baskets to stretch the Tar Heel lead to 25-14.

Lewis flipped in a runner for East Arcadia, and Long hit a free throw then stole the ball and raced for a lay-up. A Grainger free throw whittled the margin to 25-20, but Belle converted a Johnson assist into a lay-up and a 27-20 Tar Heel lead at the quarter break.

Candelaria popped in an 8-footer, Lloyd muscled in a rebound and Johnson turned a Belle assist into a lay-up and a 33-20 lead. Long scored from the lane for East Arcadia, but Johnson connected on a pair of jump shots from the lane for a 37-22 lead.

Lewis nailed a 3-point shot, but Johnson scored in transition for a 39-25 lead. Anthony Gregg powered in a 4-footer, Grainger scored from the lane, and Corey Robbins threw in a pair of 8-footers that pulled East Arcadia to within 39-33.

Johnson drove for a clinching lay-up for Tar Heel, and Long beat the buzzer with a lay-up for East Arcadia.

Tar Heel advanced to a semi-final game against top-seeded Elizabethtown Tuesday at 5 p.m.

EAST ARCADIA (35) – Cody Long 15, Kari Price, Tyler Pyatt, Roderick Grainger 6, Emanuel Lewis 8, Corey Robbins 4, Quantico Fennell, Aljuan Brown, Kenneth Armstrong, Anthony Gregg 2, Trevon Sowers, Christian Valdez.

TAR HEEL (41) – Kendall Johnson 21, Kai Belle 6, Jordan Underwood, Khalil Lloyd 10, Ke’Shawn Ballard, Alex Brisson, Cory Clanton, Larry Council, Antonio Candeleria 4, Johnny Sims, Tucker Carroll.