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Boys Basketball East Columbus 37, East Bladen 35

LAKE WACCAMAW – Junior Tahjir Melvin popped in a follow shot with 4 seconds remaining to cap a 12-2 East Columbus closing run that vaulted the Gators to a 37-35 Three Rivers Conference boys basketball victory over East Bladen Friday night.

A pair of Lefrederick Wooten free throws had given the Eagles a 33-25 lead with 4:05 remaining, but Melvin sparked the Gator run with 2 follow shots and 3 free throws. Wooten sank 2 more free throws to keep the Eagles up 35-29, but Gator junior Julius Rivera banked in a long 3-pointer to whittle the East Bladen lead to 35-34.

The Eagles committed 9 turnovers in the final period against the Gator press. “We just didn’t take care of the ball,” said East Bladen Coach Aking Elting.

Wooten connected on 9 of 9 free throws in the second half and topped the Eagle scoring with 15 points. Junior Javant McDowell dominated the paint for East Bladen with 8 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Senior Juwan Baldwin added 5 points and 9 rebounds. Junior Zach Meares also scored 5 points.

Rivera and Melvin shared scoring honors for the Gators with 9 points each. Teammate C. J. Freeman finished with 7 points.

The Gators grabbed a quick 8-0 lead, before McDowell and Wooten rallied the Eagles with lay-ups, and Meares nailed a 3-point shot to trim the lead to 10-7 at the first quarter break.

Meares turned a steal into a basket to begin the second period, and junior RaSean McKoy dropped in a lay-up off of a feed from McDowell. However the Eagles failed to score in the final 6:08 of the half as the Gators edged ahead 15-11 at halftime.

Wooten flipped in a runner and tacked on a free throw to start the second half. Junior Jacob Priest made a free throw, and Baldwin followed with 2 free throws to inch the Eagles ahead 17-16.

McDowell muscled in a rebound and converted an assist from senior Tayshaun Berkeley into a lay-up. Wooten cashed in 4 more free throws then converted a give-and-go pass from McDowell into a lay-up. Wooten hurled a full-court pass to RaSean McKoy for a dunk that padded the Eagle lead to 29-24 at the third quarter break.

McDowell banked in a short jumper, and Wooten tossed in 2 more free throws as the Eagle lead grew to 33-25.

East Bladen, now 3-16, will host West Bladen Friday night.

East Bladen            7      4     18     6 – 35
East Columbus     10      5      9    13  – 37

East Bladen (35) – Donevin Keith, Tayshaun Berkeley, RaSean McKoy 4, Zach Meares 5, Javant McDowell 8, Corey McKoy, Lefrederick Wooten 15, Juwan Baldwin 2, Jacob Priest 1, Malcolm Bolden.

East Columbus (37) – Jaquan Radford 2, Julius Rivera 9, Jamar Williams 4, Trey Brown, Tahjir Melvin 9, Tony McPhaul 4, J. T. Junious 2, C. J. Freeman 7.

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