09/30/2022
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By Sonny Jones

It was quite the night Tuesday for Bladen County high school basketball. Admittedly, with three of the four schools losing, it didn’t go the way many local fans wanted, but that doesn’t take away from the significance.

It was the first time since 2015 and only the third time since at least 2010 that all four Bladen County teams qualified for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. It came on the heels of the COVID-reduced 2021 season when no Bladen teams qualified for postseason.

Tuesday, the East Bladen girls were the lone team to advance to the second round with a 61-36 win against conference rival Clinton. The East Bladen boys couldn’t hold off a Washington rally and fell to the Pam Pack 53-49. Kinston pulled away in the second half and defeated the West Bladen boys 57-35. The West Bladen girls lost at Wilson Beddingfield 48-24.

In 2015, the West Bladen boys beat East Bladen 58-53 in the first round of the 2-A playoffs, trounced Southwest Onslow 70-38 in the second round and lost to Fairmont 58-54 in the third round.

The East Bladen girls were the No. 1 seed in the East in 2015 and defeated Eastern Randolph and Goldsboro before losing against Kinston 49-41. West Bladen lost at Currituck 49-20 in the first round.

The four Bladen teams also qualified for the state playoffs in 2014. The No. 4 seed East Bladen girls beat Warren County, North Pitt and Southern Vance before losing against Reidsville 41-37. The East Bladen boys, West Bladen boys and West Bladen girls each lost in the first round.

Admittedly, making the state playoffs in a 64-team field isn’t as difficult as it was back in the day, but that’s a topic for another time. Today, let’s celebrate the success of the local high school basketball teams.

Southeastern Athletic Conference basketball teams were 4-8 in the first round of the state playoffs. The boys went 1-4 with only St. Pauls advancing to the second round. The girls went 3-4 with East Bladen, St. Pauls and Fairmont advancing to the second round.

THURSDAY’S PICK TO CLICK

The East Bladen girls (24-3) travel to Beaufort on Thursday to play East Carteret (17-2) in the second round of the state playoffs.

The last time East Bladen played East Carteret in the state basketball playoffs was 2007. That’s before any of the current Eagles had begun first grade and likely still wearing diapers. Coach Patty Evers was there, though, for the 66-55 third-round win in the 1-A playoffs.

It’s going to be a tough task for the Eagles in Beaufort, but it can be done. Cut down on the turnovers and stay hot from 3-point range, like they did with nine against Clinton on Tuesday, and East Bladen will be boarding the bus again Saturday.

The Eagles are the pick to click.

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

https://bladencounty.org/east-bladen-travels-to-no-4-east-carteret-for-2nd-round-playoff-game/