ELIZABETHTOWN — Trailing by a point and likely down to their final possession, Laila Smith capped a 29-point effort with the deciding basket as the East Bladen girls basketball team posted a come-from-behind 43-41 win against Whiteville on Friday night in a non-conference game.
A free throw by Elayzia Dawson gave Whiteville a 41-40 lead with 20 seconds remaining. East Bladen retained possession underneath its own basket with 6.8 seconds left. Karli Priest’s 3-point attempt was off the mark, but the ball was rebounded by Smith, who scored and was fouled with 2.2 seconds remaining. Smith converted the free throw for a 43-41 East Bladen lead.
Whiteville’s long inbounds pass was stolen by East Bladen’s Maegan Burney to end the game.
The Eagles trailed 37-28 with 5:53 remaining following a 3-point field goal by Whiteville Zhari Shipman and were behind 39-33 with 1:22 left to play.
Anna Gray Heustess’ 3-pointer brought East Bladen within 39-36 with 1:08 remaining. A free throw by Whiteville’s Shipman and four free throws by East Bladen’s Smith tied it at 40-all and set the stage for the dramatic finish.
East Bladen (4-0) remained unbeaten this season and is scheduled to host South Columbus on Tuesday in a non-conference game.
Dawson led Whiteville’s scoring with 18 points.
The Wolfpack raced to an 8-0 lead and led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter. A basket by Smith and a 3-pointer by Priest to open the second quarter pulled the Eagles within 10-8. Another 3-pointer by Priest with 20 seconds left in the half tied it at 14-all.
East Bladen took its first lead in the opening minute of the third quarter on baskets by Smith and Burney. Seven consecutive points by Smith midway the third quarter gave East Bladen a 25-21 advantage. However, Whiteville scored the final nine points of the third quarter for a 30-25 lead.
Smith’s 3-pointer opened the fourth quarter and pulled East Bladen within 30-28, but the Wolfpack scored the next seven points for a 37-28 lead with 5:33 to play before the Eagles rallied.
Whiteville 10 4 16 11 – 41
East Bladen 3 11 11 18 – 43
WHITEVILLE (41) — Zhari Shipman 9, Mauricia Bennett, Mykelliona Shipman 4, Marnasia Smith 9, Teonna Hall, Elayzia Dawson 18, Serenity Harvey 1, Kailah Jordan, Idonia McCullum.
EAST BLADEN (43) — NeNe Ward, Ariel Cromartie, Cabria Baldwin, Anna Gray Heustess 4, Karli Priest 6, Zoe Smith, Maegan Burney 4, Laila Smith 29.