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By John Clark

BLADENBORO – Sometimes it is all about surviving. Tuesday night Midway slowed the game down offensively, played some gimmick defenses and battled West Bladen to the very end. However, the Knights escaped with a 41-34 Southeastern Athletic Conference victory.

The Knights claimed their 16th straight victory and improved to 18-1 overall and 7-0 in SAC play. West Bladen will travel to St. Pauls’ Friday night. Midway (2-5, 11-7) will host Clinton Friday.

“We didn’t shoot well,” said West Bladen Coach Travis Pait. “But the guys got thru it. At Red Springs (a 33-25 win) I felt like we were in control of the game despite the score. Tonight, I never felt like we were in control. I am unbelievably proud of our guys. We just have to get better.”

The Knights carried a 25-21 lead into the final period, but Raider junior Ke’mari McNeil threw in a 3-point shot and a 15-footer to vault Midway ahead 26-25 at the 6:53 mark.

Junior Chase Williams answered with 2 free throws for West, and senior Andre Moore nailed a 3-point shot for a 30-26 Knight lead. Midway’s Tanner Williams popped in a baseline jumper, but Chase Williams delivered an assist to a cutting Hezekiah Adams for a lay-up that resulted in a 3-point play and a 33-28 lead with 3:41 left.

McNeil cut the deficit to 33-30 with a lay-up, but sophomore Jackson Pait sank a free throw for West. The Raiders’ Tripp Westbrook canned an elbow jumper to whittle the Knight lead to 34-32. A Knight foul gave the Raiders possession, but Moore stole the ball, and Chase Williams sent another assist to Adams for a lay-up and a 36-32 lead with 1:04 on the clock.

Another Moore steal led to Chase Williams cashing in 2 more free throws with 39 seconds left, and Adams hit a foul shot and Pait tacked on 2 more in the final seconds.

Adams led the Knights with 17 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Pait followed with 9 points and 6 steals. Chase Williams contributed 6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 assists. Moore collected 5 steals and 3 rebounds. Sophomore Tylik McCall had 2 steals.

McNeil topped all scorers with 19 points for the Raiders. Westbrook tallied 7 points.

Pait stole the ball and pitched ahead to McCall for a lay-up and a 3-point play to start the game. A Moore steal led to an Adams lay-up, and Adams knocked in a corner 3-ball for an 8-0 lead. Chase Williams spun to the hoop for a lay-up, and Pait bombed in a 3-point shot from just inside the volleyball line for a 13-6 lead.

Freshman Kendell Lessane buried a 3-point shot 18 seconds into the 2nd period for a 16-6 West lead. The Knights offense then went scoreless for the next 7:40, while McNeil was firing in a trio of 3-point shots to close the gap to 16-15. Adams beat the halftime buzzer for a lay-up and an 18-15 lead.

Chase Williams, West’s 6-7 center, sat out most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters – almost 14 minutes -with foul trouble. Lay-ups by Anthony Graham and Westbrook vaulted Midway in front 19-18, but Pait swished in a 3-ball and Adams netted a free throw for a 22-19 lead. An Adams 3-ball kept West on top 25-21 at the quarter break.

Midway             6  9  6  13 — 34
West Bladen  13  5  7  16 — 41

Midway (34) — Tripp Westbrook 7, Andre Gregory, Tanner Williams 2, Ke’mari McNeil 19, Collin Woods 4, Wyatt Herring, Jacob Holland, Anthony Graham 2.

West Bladen (41) — Jackson Pait 9, Hezekiah Adams 17, Tylik McCall 3, Kendell Lessane 3, Andre Moore 3, Cornelius Esters, Ty’Leak Ballard, Chase Williams 6.

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