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By Sonny Jones

The possibility of a fourth game between the East Bladen and St. Pauls girls’ basketball teams became reality Saturday night. Ask and you shall receive.

Both teams won Saturday in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-A playoffs — East Bladen winning at North Lenoir 71-62 and St. Pauls routing Whiteville 61-29.

Now, a fourth game in the fourth round of the playoffs happens Tuesday in St. Pauls.

St. Pauls (26-1) won this season’s meetings by scores of 59-48, 60-41 and 59-28.

Can the Eagles snap their six-game losing streak against St. Pauls? Three of those losses came this season. It’s the only three losses that East Bladen (26-3) has had this season. From 2012-2019, East Bladen beat the Bulldogs 15 consecutive times.

St. Pauls’ lone loss came against 4-A Purnell Swett 66-57 on Dec. 18 in the championship game of the Robeson Shootout. Swett finished 25-1.

It’s said the third time is the charm. For the East Bladen girls’ basketball team, it’s hoping the fourth time will be the charm.

The winner of the East Bladen-St. Pauls game will play the winner of the Roanoke Rapids at Farmville Central game for the East championship on March 5. The West semifinals Tuesday have North Surry at Salisbury and Shelby at Randleman. The state championship game is scheduled March 12.

Six of the 32 girls teams remaining in the playoffs are a No. 11 seed or higher. East Bladen is seeded No. 13 in 2-A. Other high seeds still playing are No. 11 Panther Creek (4-A), No. 12 Green Level (4-A), No. 19 Enka (3-A), No. 14 Burlington Williams (3-A) and No. 22 Starmount (1-A).


The NASCAR Cup series is at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The Kyles are the pick to click. Defending champion Kyle Larson finished 32nd in the season-opening Daytona 500 because of an accident so look for him to rebound from that. Kyle Busch has won four times and has 11 top fives in 22 starts at the track.

SATURDAY’S PICK: Armando Bacot with a double-double and Brady Manek with a handful of 3-pointers for North Carolina in its game at N.C. State. Results: Bacot had his double-double by halftime and finished with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Manek had two 3-pointers.

Sonny Jones can be reached at wibbyj@gmail.com.