02/24/2024
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East Bladen High SchoolBLADENBORO – Senior Jace McKenney scored 6 of his game-high 26 points during an 8-0 fourth-quarter run that carried South Brunswick to a 38-34 victory over East Bladen in the opening round of the Adidas Christmas Tournament Thursday at West Bladen High.

The Cougars took a 26-18 lead into the final period, but Eagle sophmore Freddy Wooten buried a pair of 3-point shots to slice the lead to 26-24.

McKenney answered with 2 foul shots, but East sophmore Javant McDowell scooped in a reverse lay-up, and senior Keshaun Davis flipped in a transition runner to tie the game 28-28 with 4:29 on the clock.

McKenney connected on 4 of 4 free throws and turned a lob pass from senior Isaac Stanley into a lay-up and a 34-28 lead. Cougar junior A. J. Rossi tacked on 2 more free throws to up the count to 36-28 with 2:01 left.

Davis sank a free throw, and Wooten bombed in another 3-ball to trim the margin to 36-32 at the 1:03 mark. Jordan Jenrette dropped in a clinching lay-up against the Eagle press with 12 seconds remaining.

“Just once I would like to pull one of these close games out,” said Eagle Coach Kenzil McCall. “The guys surprised me with the effort they brought today.”

The 6-6 McKenney, a UNC-Pembroke signee, drained a pair of 3-point shots, dropped in 2 lay-ups and added 2 free throws and another basket as the Cougars built a 17-6 first quarter lead.

After McKenney’s hot start, the Eagles switched to a box-and-one defense with senior Bryon Bowen chasing McKenney. “We had to do something different,” said Coach McCall. “He is averaging 26 points per game for a reason. We had to slow the game down and make it ugly.”

Davis drove for a lay-up, and senior Darrell Banks nailed a 3-point shot to start the second period and trim the Cougar lead to 17-11. Davis spun down the lane for a bank shot, and McDowell canned 2 free throws to close the gap to 20-15. Stanley’s 3-ball put South up 23-15 at halftime.

Davis cashed in a free throw, and McDowell hit two free tosses to pull East within 23-18 early in the second half. McKenney knocked down 3 free throws at the 2:20 mark for the only Cougar points of the quarter.

Davis led the Eagles with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Wooten finished with 9 points, and McDowell added 6 points and 8 rebounds. Senior Greyson Heustess contributed 6 steals and 4 rebounds.

McKenney grabbed 7 rebounds, blocked 2 shots and connected on 12 of 15 foul shots. South Brunswick made 15 of 22 free throws, while the Eagles were only 6 of 13 at the line.

South Brunswick (4-3) will play Pinecrest (9-1), a 65-50 winner over First Flight, in Friday’s 6 p.m. semi-final. East Bladen will play First Flight (4-5) at 2 p.m. Friday.

South Brunswick  17  6  3  12 – 38
East Bladen              6  9  3  16 –  34

EAST BLADEN (34) – Keshaun Davis 12, Greyson Heustess 2, Bryon Bowen, Javant McDowell 6, Juwan Baldwin, Freddy Wooten 9, Darrell Banks 3, Robbie Cooley, Tyshawn Berkeley 2.

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