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By John Clark

BLADENBORO – The West Bladen family and the entire Bladen County community was dealt a tragic loss Saturday morning as 23-year-old Sayaun Dent was killed in a traffic accident at the intersection of Marsh Road and NC 41 when, according to the NC Highway Patrol, a pickup truck ran the stop sign and struck Dent’s car on the driver’s side.

“The passing of Sayaun Dent is a tragedy I will never get over,” said Knight Coach Travis Pait in a social media post Sunday. “I thank God for the time I was given with this young man. He is an All-Time great at West Bladen and was at least such in life.”

Dent received all-conference honors in each of his 3 years on the Knight varsity and led his teams to a 60-23 record in those 3 years.

“For the first time in 12 years, I can’t say that it is a very good day to be a Knight,” continued Pait. “The West Bladen Basketball Family is praying for his parents and family. We love you.”

Dent went on to star at Sandhills Community College and led the Flyers to the 2020 NJCAA Division III national championship, scoring 27 points in the title game and being named the Most Valuable Player in the national tournament.

Sandhills Coach Mike Apple shared on social media, “It is with great sadness that I want to inform our Sandhills basketball family that one of our own, Sayaun Dent, was taken from us today. I am in shock, what a fine young man.”

The Elizabethtown native was named First Team All-American after leading Sandhills in scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (8 per game). The Flyers won their last 18 games to claim the title with a 34-2 record.

“Heartbroken is an understatement,” said West Bladen coach and teacher Gaye Davis on Facebook. “As teachers we form bonds with our students, but closer bonds with some. I watched him grow from a little boy to a grown man. I have no words.

“Prayers for his mama, grandma, granddaddy, little brother, daddy and everyone who knew him and loved him,” continued Davis. “He was truly a great young man. I am so glad that I was his school ‘mama’.”

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