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East Bladen High School

East Bladen’s hopes for a 2015 state championship came to an end Tuesday night as the Lady Eagles were eliminated in the Sectional Final 49-41 by Kinston.

“I’m not happy with the outcome of the last game,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers. “Kinston played good defense, and we didn’t make enough free throws. But I’m happy with the way this team fought back. This was a real good group of girls to work with.”

East Bladen had carried a perfect 26-0 record into the Kinston game and was the top seed in the Class 2-A Eastern Regionals. The Lady Eagles had wins over 4-A Sectional Finalist Jack Britt, Wilmington Ashley and Lumberton.

The loss to Kinston ended the high school careers for senior starters Abbey Norris and Imani Turner-Dobson. “Both of them have really improved over the last 4 years, said Coach Evers.”

“Abbey was our leader this year,” continued Coach Evers.  “She was the go-to person for me to get information to the girls. I have coached her in two sports, and she’s never missed a practice in 4 years.”

Norris contributed 7 rebounds and 6 points a game for the Lady Eagles.

“Abbey improved so much over the 4 years that she turned into a good basketball player,” said Coach Evers. “Even though it’s her third-best sport, behind volleyball and softball.”

“Imani has improved so much in reading the game, and learning the game defensively,” noted Coach Evers. “She was a big part of our press. Having her at the back of the defense gave us the ability to go out and pressure people.”

Turner-Dobson who is being recruited to continue her basketball career at Fayetteville State University averaged almost 8 blocked shots per game and added 8.5 rebounds and 9 points per game.

Junior Lacey Suggs scored 26 points in the Kinston game and averaged over 22 points per game for the season. Suggs also contributed 6 rebounds, 6.5 steals and 3 assists per game.

“Lacey is so versatile,” said Evers. “She plays hard. She is one of the best players that I have coached.”

Junior point guard Abby Ward directed the Lady Eagle offense and scored over 7.3 points per game, while collecting 4.5 steals and over 4 assists per game.

“Abby Ward had an exceptional play-off run,” stated Coach Evers. “She created on offense, moved the ball around and played with confidence.”

Junior forward Christiana Cromartie filled several columns on the stat sheet with over 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game.

“Chris was the most improved player that we had,” said Coach Evers. “She will have to go to the post next year, and she has some good post moves. Chris can also hit the outside shot.  She’s really going to be a good player.”

Junior Miller Heustess and sophmores Emily Scott and Lexie Mendell played key minutes for the Lady Eagles in the sectionals.

“Miller, Emily and Lexie did a great job for us coming off the bench,” added Coach Evers. “They got more playing time with the conference schedule that we had and their confidence really grew.”

Other members of the Lady Eagle squad were senior Lexi Dawson, sophmores Danielle McDowell and Michelle Page and freshman Shardajah Brown.

“I really want to thank our fans for coming out and supporting us all year,” said Evers. “The crowd that we had for the Kinston game was the biggest one for a girls play-off game that we have had since I have been here.”

With starters Suggs, Ward and Cromartie returning along with Heustess, Scott and Mendell, the Lady Eagles have a solid nucleus to build around as they begin to look toward next year.

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