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By John Clark

ELIZABETHTOWN – Twice in the final period East Bladen appeared to have comfortable leads Friday night, but West Brunswick’s Trojans wouldn’t go away.

Junior guard Dominick Collins calmly swished 2 free throws with 5 seconds left that sealed a 54-49 non-conference boys’ basketball victory for the Eagles over the Trojans.

“This team is so young that you have to coach them all the way to the end,” said a relieved East Coach Aking Elting. “Coach Jay (Raynor) has been big for us with strategy and brainstorming with me. My hair is going to be grayer than yours before long.”

Josiah Johnson connected on a 3-point shot to pull West to within 35-33 at the 2:36 mark of the 3rd quarter. Eagle sophomore Ronnie Covington banged in a follow shot, and senior Lee Barnes buried a 3-point shot for a 40-33 East lead at the quarter break.

Covington dropped in a lay-up that grew into a 3-point play off a feed from Collins to pad the margin to 43-33 with 6:46 left.

West’s Jude Surigao hit from the baseline, and Isaac Clarida threw in a 3-ball to whittle the lead to 43-38. Collins sank a free throw, and senior Peyton Tatum put back a rebound to up the count to 46-38 with 4:43 on the clock.

Johnathan Daniels buried a 3-ball, and Royce Metters turned a steal into a lay-up that brought West to within 46-43 with 3 minutes left. Collins cashed in 4 straight free throws, and junior Kewone Maynor tossed in 2 free throws to stretch the lead to 52-43.

However, Johnson bombed in a pair of 3-balls to close the gap to 52-49 with 25 seconds remaining. Both teams missed 2 foul shots each, before a Trojan turnover led to Collins’ clinching free throws.

Collins led the Eagles with 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Covington finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Barnes drained four 3-point shots for 12 points and snared 5 rebounds. Rodney Lacewell, a 6-8 center, scored 8 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

Maynor finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Tatum blocked 2 shots, and junior Chace Butler had 2 steals.

Johnson’s trio of 3-point baskets produced a team-high 11 points for West Brunswick. Surigao chipped in with 9 points. Daniels finished with 7 points, and K’veon Griffin tallied 6 points.

Covington and Barnes fired in 3-point shots in the opening quarter for East, and Covington put the Eagles on top 8-6 at the quarter break on a follow shot.

Collins burnt the nets with a pair of long 3-point shots to begin the 2nd period. Lacewell muscled in a rebound for a 16-9 Eagle lead. A pair of Covington follow shots, and another Barnes 3-ball built a 23-19 Eagle lead, but Daniels beat the buzzer with a long 3-ball to cut the lead to 23-22 at halftime.

Butler hurled in a follow shot to begin the 2nd half for East, and Maynor delivered a 3-point basket for a 28-24 Eagle lead. Lacewell powered in a lay-up off a Collins assist. Barnes bombed in a 3-ball, and Lacewell pumped in 2 free throws for a 35-30 East lead.

The Eagles improved to 4-3 and will host South Columbus Thursday night. West Brunswick, now 1-6, will visit Laney Tuesday night.

West Brunswick  6  16  11  16 — 49
East Bladen           8  15  1 7 14 — 54

West Brunswick (49) — K’veon Griffin 6, Royce Metters 4, Johnathan Daniels 7, Isaac Clarida 3, Jude Surigao 9, Tristen Roberts 5, Aiden Brown 2, Kaden Bryant 2, Josiah Johnson 11.

East Bladen (54) — Dominick Collins 13, Chace Butler 2, Sherman Long, Lee Barnes 12, Shannon Hankins, Ronnie Covington 12, Kewone Maynor 5, Peyton Tatum 2, Tevin McClean, Rodney Lacewell 8.

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