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Photo by Kenneth Armstrong

BURGAW – Clinton’s Dark Horses raced to an early 11-2 lead and eventual 84-50 victory over East Bladen in the Boys Championship game of the Four County Conference Basketball Tournament.

“We just ran out of gas,” said East Bladen Coach Kenzil McCall. “We seemed to be running on empty. We were much fresher last night (in an overtime win over West Bladen).”

After Eagle junior Sincere Smith turned a feed from senior Eian Hines into a basket and a 2-0 lead, Clinton’s Dewan Lesane leaked out and scored 9 straight points in transition.

Eian Hines rallied the Eagles to within 11-6 by sinking 2 free throws and dropping in a lay-up. Clinton’s Jeremiah Pope nailed a 3-point shot, but Smith worked inside for a lay-up to keep the Eagle deficit at 14-8.

Senior Denzel Johnson turned a steal into a lay-up, but the Clinton lead grew to 21-10 before Eagle senior Ethan Hines converted an in-bounds pass from Xavier Wooten into a lay-up to keep East within 21-12 at the quarter break.

Sophmore Adonis Avery drilled in a 3-point shot, and Ethan Hines drove the baseline for a lay-up that trimmed the Dark Horse lead to 23-17.

The Dark Horses finished the half with a 19-6 spurt to widen the gap to 42-23. Avery flipped in a floater, Demetrius Wooten drove for a lay-up and Eian Hines popped in a short jumper for the Eagle baskets.

Demetrius Wooten bombed in a trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter, and Ethan Hines turned a steal into a lay-up that kept East Bladen within 50-34 with 2:49 left in the quarter.

Clinton closed the quarter with a 10-0 run that upped the count to 60-34.

Eian Hines began the final period with a pair of transition lay-ups – one off of a feed from brother Ethan Hines. Smith sank 2 free throws to trim the lead to 60-40.

Pope ignited a 17-1 Clinton blitz with a trio of 3-point shots then capped it with a dunk.

Johnson stopped the run with a 3-point shot, and Smith hit a free throw. Sophmore Pierce Melvin made a free throw, Avery scored a lay-up in transition, and Anthony Wooten tossed in the final Eagle basket.

Eian Hines led the Eagles with 12 points and 5 rebounds. Demetrius Wooten followed with 11 points. Smith finished with 8 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Avery added 7 points.

Pope topped all scorers with 24 points, and Lesane followed with 18 points. Kris Williams finished with 11 points.

“I am proud of our kids,” said Coach McCall. “They really battled and gave us something to build on for next year.”

The Eagles finish their season with a 4-23 record. Clinton, now 24-2, is expecting to be a top seed in the Class 2A play-off pairings that will be announced Saturday.

EAST BLADEN (50) – Eian Hines 12, Xavier Wooten, Denzel Johnson 5, Ethan Hines 4, Adonis Avery 7, Sincere Smith 8, Demetrius Wooten 11, Robbie Cooley, Pierce Melvin 1, Anthony Wooten 2, Joshua McKoy, Jordan Payton.