03/04/2024
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By John Clark

ELIZABETHTOWN – East Bladen sophomore Ronnie Covington recorded a double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds, and senior Lee Barnes sizzled the nets with five 3-point baskets and 19 points as the Eagles outlasted Purnell Swett 57-48 Wednesday night in a marathon non-conference boys basketball game.

Swett had claimed a 56-45 victory over East Friday night, but the rematch was mostly about survival. Fifty-five fouls were whistled in the game – 30 on East. Seventy free throws were shot – East sank 18 of 33 foul shots, while Swett was 18 for 37 at the line. Three Eagles – Peyton Tatum, Rodney Lacewell and Chace Butler – fouled out.

Collin Sampson canned a 3-point shot and 2 free throws to begin the final period and slice a once 11-point Eagle lead to 37-33. However, East junior Dominick Collins drove through the Ram full-court press for a lay-up, and Covington turned a spectacular rebound into a 3-point play.

Barnes nailed 3-point shots from each corner, junior Kewone Maynor hit a free throw, and Collins popped in a 10-footer from the lane for a 51-34 Eagle lead with 4:10 remaining.

Barnes cashed in 3 free throws, and Maynor, Covington and Tevin McLean added 1 each as East Bladen held off a late Swett run that never got closer than 7 points.

“Ronnie is big and explosive out there,” said Eagle Coach Aking Elting. “He runs like a tall deer. Lee made a lot of big shots for us, and Dominick is the nucleus of this team. He controls the ball.”

Collins finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Tatum grabbed 4 rebounds before fouling out, and Lacewell and Maynor had 3 rebounds each. Maynor also collected 2 steals.

Covington turned a Collins assist into a lay-up and a 3-point play to start the game then converted another Collins assist into another lay-up 3 minutes later. Butler and Sherman Long netted free throws as the quarter ended in a 7-7 tie.

Covington banked in a 10-footer to begin the 2nd period. Tatum powered in a follow shot, and Barnes drained consecutive 3-point shots from the right corner. McLean sent an assist to Covington for a lay-up, and Covington and Collins banged in rebound baskets for a 23-13 East lead. Sampson beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-ball to pull Swett to within 23-16.

Covington opened the 2nd half with an elbow jumper, and Barnes buried another 3-ball for a 28-17 East lead. Collins connected on 3 free throws in the period, Lacewell tossed in 2 foul shots, and Barnes and Maynor hit 1 each. Collins drove for a lay-up and a 37-26 lead, before Sampson’s 15-footer trimmed the margin to 37-28.

The Eagles evened their record at 3-3 and will entertain West Brunswick Friday night. Swett, now 1-2, will host Kannapolis Brown Friday night.

Purnell Swett  7    9  12  20 — 48
East Bladen     7  16  14  20 —  57

Purnell Swett (48) — Collin Sampson 16, Jeremiah Barnes 1, Jaythan Locklear 2, Zack Harris 7, Simmeon Lennon, Raymond Cummings 4, Tim Locklear 4, Darius Bethea 5, Kaede Collins 1, Ethan Locklear, Aiden Clewis 1, Charles Wilkes 6, Kollyn Locklear 1, Ethan Bullard.

East Bladen (57) — Dominick Collins 11, Chace Butler 1, Sherman Long 1, Lee Barnes 19, Shannon Hankins, Ronnie Covington 17, Kewone Maynor 3, Peyton Tatum 2, Tevin McLean 1, Rodney Lacewell 2.

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