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Boys Basketball: West Bladen 58, Pender 54

DUBLIN – For 26 minutes Wednesday night West Bladen was cruising toward another Four County Conference win, but the Knights had to withstand a furious Pender rally to pull out a 58-54 basketball victory over the Patriots.

Junior Jonathan Robinson followed up his own miss to give the Knights a 51-37 lead with 6:04 left to play, but the Patriots answered with 11 straight points as the Knight offense sputtered and the Pender press forced 9 turnovers in the period.

Senior John Bowen dropped in a lay-up with 1:19 remaining that snapped an almost 5 minute scoring drought for the Knights. A Sayaun Dent free throw padded the lead to 54-48 with 1:04 on the clock.

A couple of Knight turnovers led to lay-ups for McClean and Rodney Hansley that pulled the Patriots to within 54-52 with 38 seconds left.

Junior Jimmy Williams beat the Pender press for a lay-up with 19 seconds remaining, but Hansley spun down the lane for another lay-up to whittle the lead to 56-54 with 10 seconds on the clock.

Dent sank 2 free throws three seconds later to seal the verdict.

“We did what we wanted to do for 3 quarters and 2 minutes and then we lost our minds,” said Knight Coach Travis Pait. “But we made enough plays at the end to pull it out. Just too many mental mistakes, and our effort was terrible in the fourth quarter. ”

Dent posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. John Bowen also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Robinson just missed a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Williams finished with 6 points, and senior Kalvin Page added 5.

Junior Scott Bowen drilled in a corner 3-pointer, and Page and Williams drove for lay-ups to keep the Knights even early at 8-8. Robinson pumped in a baseline 15-footer, John Bowen buried a 3-point shot, and Dent pulled up for a 15-footer and a 15-8 West lead.

Dent canned 4 free throws and a baseline 12-footer, and John Bowen put back a rebound as the Knights built a 23-12 lead early in the second period. Hansley nailed a pair of long 3-pointers to close the gap to 23-18.

Robinson muscled in a rebound, and John Bowen pumped in a 17-footer to keep West Bladen up 27-20 at halftime.

Robinson powered in a lay-up , and Dent scored on a follow-shot to keep the Knight lead at 31-22. Williams popped in a baseline jumper, and Dent connected from 15 feet as the Knights led 36-27.

Pender trimmed the margin to 36-31, but John Bowen flipped in a floater from the lane and a jump-hook from the baseline. Dent scored in transition to push the lead back to 42-31. West led 43-33 at the quarter break.

Dent drove for another lay-up, John Bowen tossed in a turn-around, and Page scored in transition for a 49-35 Knight lead with 6:27 left to play.

“It was an ugly win,” continued Coach Pait. “What bothered me the most was that we didn’t run our offense, but it was probably good for us to be in a game like this.”

Hansley hit four 3-point shots and led the Patriots with 16 points. McClean and Cameron Kea finished with 11 points each for Pender.

It was the tenth win in a row for the Knights who are 3-0 in league play and 10-2 overall. Friday night pre-season favorite Clinton (4-0 in the Four County) comes to West Bladen for an early showdown for first place.

WEST BLADEN (58) – Kalvin Page 5, Scott Bowen 3, Jimmy Williams 6, Keshawn Lewis, Drew Harris, Sayaun Dent 20, Gerardo Reyes, Jonathan Robinson 9, John Bowen 15.

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