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Boys Basketball: East Columbus 39, East Bladen 38

ELIZABETHTOWN – East Columbus edged East Bladen 39-38 Friday night to clinch a spot in the Three Rivers Conference boys basketball post-season tournament.

The Gators connected on 6 of 8 free throws in the final quarter to preserve the victory. Senior Alterek Simpson threw in a basket and a free throw, senior Donavan Worley made 3 free throws, and senior Branden Brown hit 2 free throws in the period.

Sophmore Javant McDowell rallied the Eagles with 3 baskets in the quarter, and senior Darrell Banks bombed in a 3-point shot and sank 2 free throws.

Banks poured in 16 points to lead all scorers for the Eagles. McDowell followed with 11 points. Senior Tyree Burney led the Gators with 11 points, and Simpson finished with 10 points.

The Eagles raced to a 12-5 first quarter lead as Banks buried a 3-point shot and sophmore Freddy Wooten pumped in a basket and a free throw. Seniors Greyson Heustess, Bryon Bowen and Keshaun Davis tossed in a basket each.

The Gators answered with a trio of baskets from Burney and a 3-point goal and another basket from Simpson that keyed a 17-4 East Columbus rally that produced a 22-16 halftime lead. McDowell worked the paint for the only two Eagle baskets in the period.

Banks lit up the scoreboard with 4 baskets in the third quarter. Davis popped in a basket, and McDowell canned a free throw as the Eagles closed the gap to 31-27 at the quarter break.

The Eagles were plagued by a 4 for 20 performance at the foulline in the game. The Gators made 8 of their 15 free throws.

Five Eagle seniors – Heustess, Davis, Bowen, Banks and Robbie Cooley – played their final home game, and were honored along with injured senior Pierce Melvin on Senior Night.

East Bladen will travel to South Robeson Tuesday night.

East Columbus  5  17    9    8 – 39
East Bladen      12    4  11  11 – 38

EAST BLADEN (38) – Keshaun Davis 4, Greyson Heustess 2, Bryon Bowen 2, Javant McDowell 11, Juwan Baldwin, Freddy Wooten 3, Tyshawn Berkeley, Darrell Banks 16, Robbie Cooley, Corey McKoy.

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