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East Columbus Christmas Tournament: West Bladen Girls 41, South Columbus 26

West Bladen’s Lady Knights grabbed an early 9-1 lead and never looked back en route to a 41-26 girls basketball victory over South Columbus Tuesday in the consolation game of the East Columbus Christmas Tournament.

Junior Alanna Ludlum tossed in a 10-foot jumper 4 seconds after the opening tap to start the Lady Knight run. Junior Kaylee Stevens put back a rebound, and junior Laikyn Pait drained a 3-point shot for a 7-0 West lead.

Pait buried a 17-footer from the left corner to pad the lead to 9-1 with 5:12 remaining in the quarter. After Macelan McPherson’s 3-pointer for the Lady Stallions, West Bladen junior Jenna Dove pumped in a 15-footer off of a feed from Pait.

Dove battled inside for two more rebound baskets, and junior Jerena Purdie tacked on a free throw for a 16-6 West Bladen lead. McPherson’s 3-point play pulled South Columbus to within 16-9 at the quarter break.

Pait nailed a 3-point shot to start the second period, and junior Logan Autry stole the ball and raced for a lay-up and a 21-9 West lead. Freshman Erika McKoy snatched a long rebound and darted down the court for another lay-up as the lead swelled to 23-10.

Junior Kassidy Anderson’s free throw made it 24-11, before South’s Hailey Sarvis beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-ball that trimmed the margin to 24-14.

Dove began the second half with another rebound basket, and Pait flipped in a floater from 8 feet for a 28-14 Lady Knight lead.

Autry stole the ball and sprinted for another lay-up, and Purdie worked inside for a lay-up and a 32-17 West lead. South’s Lindsey Lewis popped in a pair of baseline jumpers to whittle the margin to 32-21 at the quarter break.

Ludlum stole the ball and pitched ahead to Autry for a lay-up, and junior Elizabeth Allbright turned a Stevens assist into a lay-up and a 36-23 Lady Knight lead.

After a series of missed foul shots by both teams, West junior Akira Grimes sank a free throw, and Pait threw in a follow shot from the lane to up the count to 39-23.

Sophmore Patience Parker pumped in a baseline jumper to give the Lady Knights their biggest lead at 41-24 with 2:07 left to play.

Pait topped the West Bladen scoring with 12 points and 4 rebounds. Dove finished with 8 points and a team-high 5 rebounds. Autry contributed 6 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals.

Allbright collected 3 rebounds and 3 steals, Purdie totaled 4 rebounds, and Stevens and Grimes added 3 rebounds each as the Lady Knights held a 29-28 advantage on the boards.

“We rebounded well, our shooting was better and we made some lay-ups,” said West Bladen Coach Rick Rhoda. “Our plan was to put more pressure on the ball, and it worked.”

The Lady Knights forced 25 South Columbus turnovers, while only committing 6 of their own. Eleven of the 12 West Bladen players who played in the game scored.

“We wanted to play hard for four quarters and we did,” continued Coach Rhoda. “I am especially happy for the girls that they got this win.”

Lewis scored all 11 of her points in the second half to lead the South Columbus scoring. McPherson followed with 8 points.

The Lady Knights are now 3-7 on the season and will host Heide Trask Monday at 6 p.m. in a Four County Conference game.

West Bladen (41) – Alanna Ludlum 2, Kaylee Stevens 2, Erika McKoy 2, Patience Parker 2, Kassidy Anderson 1, Logan Autry 6, Laikyn Pait 12, Jenna Dove 8, Elizabeth Allbright 2, Akira Grimes 1, Jerena Purdie 3, Conner Brisson.

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