By John Clark
BLADENBORO – The Ringling Brothers Circus was once billed as the “Greatest Show on Earth.” This week’s 2 basketball wins at “The Castle” by the West Bladen boys would give Ringling Brothers some competition.
Fresh off his game-winning bucket against East Bladen on Monday night, freshman Tylik McCall drained a game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Friday night’s contest with Red Springs to overtime. The Knights rode a 15-4 spurt in the extra period to a 66-55 Southeastern Athletic Conference victory.
Coach Travis Pait’s Knights who have won 6 of their last 7 games improved to 7-3 in the SAC-7 and 16-6 overall and moved into a 3-way tie for 2nd place with East Bladen and Red Springs. West Bladen will host 1st-place St. Pauls (8-2) Tuesday night, while Red Springs (15-7 overall) will visit East Bladen Tuesday night.
Junior Jaylen Sturdivant made 2 free throws with 21 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Red Devils their biggest lead at 49-44. Sophomore Hezekiah Adams answered with 2 free throws for West. Junior Kaeden Porter hit 1 of 2 foul shots at the 17-second mark for the visitors, but Adams flew down the court for a lay-up 6 seconds later to whittle the margin to 50-48.
Porter went 1 for 2 again at the line with 9 seconds left, before McCall nailed the tying 3-ball from the right wing. “Another big shot by Tylik, but a great job by Hezi (Adams) to find him and not try to do too much his self,” said Coach Pait. “What a week! Last second win over our rival, big win in a tough setting Wednesday then another unbelievable overtime win tonight.”
Sophomore Chase Williams, a 6-7 center, started the extra period with a 3-point play off an assist from Adams. Porter’s jumper cut the lead to 54-53, but Williams netted 2 free throws. Junior Andre Moore drilled in a corner 3-ball for West, but Porter tallied 2 free throws to close the gap 59-55.
McCall fired in another corner 3-ball to push the lead to 62-55 at the 1:58 mark. Moore connected on 3 of 4 foul shots in the final 55 seconds, and freshman Jackson Pait tacked on a free throw.
Adams led the Knights with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Williams posted a double-double of 13 points and a whopping 18 rebounds – 11 after halftime. Moore racked up all 12 of his points in the 2nd half and overtime and snared 6 rebounds. Senior Gary Parker finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds, and McCall and Pait scored 6 points each. McCall grabbed 4 rebounds.
The Knights were up 14 points at halftime, but “the game changed in the 2nd half,” said Coach Pait. “They made some adjustments on their press, but we weathered the storm then made some big plays at the end.”
Coach Pait continued, “The game in the 2nd half was made for Hezi and he did a great job of attacking, Andre was unbelievable making those 3 big shots in the 2nd half, and Tylik hit a couple of big shots. Chase played well and all 9 guys that played contributed.”
Porter started the game with a pull-up jumper, but Williams banged in a 6-footer then converted an Adams assist into a lay-up. Adams stole the ball and sprinted for a lay-up then a feed from Williams resulted in another Adams lay-up. Adams turned a lay-up into a 3-point play, then dropped in a lay-up off of a Pait assist. Parker muscled in a lay-up for a 15-7 Knight lead.
Adams began the 2nd period with another lay-up. Parker put back a rebound then turned a lay-up into a 3-point play. Pait drilled in a 3-pointer for a 25-9 lead. Porter was awarded a basket on a goal-tending call that whittled the lead to 25-11 at halftime.
Pait canned 2 free throws, before Red Springs used 3 baskets from Porter and a Sturdivant 3-ball to close the gap to 29-24. Parker powered in a lay-up, and Moore knocked down a corner 3-ball to push the Knight lead back to 34-24 at the quarter break.
Williams flipped in a 4-footer in the final period, but 2 Porter baskets and a Sturdivant 3-ball sliced the West lead to 36-34. Moore bombed in another corner 3-ball, and Adams sped to the rim for a lay-up and a 41-34 lead.
A Parker free throw kept West up 42-39, before Porter spun to the basket for a 43-42 Red Devil lead. Williams threaded his way thru 3 defenders for a lay-up and a 44-43 Knight advantage. Jamey Tedder’s basket and 2 free throws put Red Springs on top 47-44.
Porter topped the Red Springs scoring with 22 points. Sturdivant followed with 15 points, and Tedder totaled 8 points.
Red Springs 7 4 13 27 4 – 55
West Bladen 15 10 9 17 15 – 66
Red Springs (55) – Carnelius Manning 6, Kaedon Porter 22, Jamey Tedder 8, Kohnner Oxendine, Makhi Arthur 4, Jasiah Williams, Jaylen Rush, Jaylen Sturdivant 15, Timothy Hammonds.
West Bladen (66) – Jackson Pait 6, Hezekiah Adams 19, Tylik McCall 6, Andre Moore 12, Cornelius Esters, Gary Parker 10, Walter Bealon, Anthony Mitchell, Chase Williams 13.