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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

ELIZABETHTOWN – Sophmore Patience Ward racked up 19 points Friday night to lead East Bladen’s Lady Eagles to a 57-44 girls basketball victory over Whiteville in the Three Rivers conference opener for both schools.

The visitors gave the Lady Eagles fits in the opening quarter as Alex Bellamy dropped in a trio of baskets, and Marquasia Smith hit a 3-point shot and another basket to spark Whiteville to a 19-12 lead.

Ward threw in a trio of baskets in the second quarter, and junior Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson fired in 2 baskets and a free throw to spark an 18-7 East Bladen surge that produced a 28-26 halftime lead.

“Once we figured out our defense, everything fell into place,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers.

Ward pumped in a trio of baskets in the third quarter, and junior Erica McKoy fired in a pair of baskets and sank 2 free throws to key an 18-6 third period spurt that opened up a 46-32 lead. Junior Anna Kate White made 4 of 4 free throws in the quarter.

Moore-Peterson drove for a pair of lay-ups, and Ward put back a rebound to begin the final period. McKoy knocked down a 3-point shot, and sophmore Lorna Mendell turned a pass from junior Ashley Hardin into a lay-up as the East Bladen lead grew to 57-37 with 2:09 left to play.

Ward also collected 7 steals and 5 rebounds. Moore-Peterson and McKoy finished with 13 points each. “Erica was patient and hit some big shots for us,” noted Coach Evers.

Hardin pulled down 8 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. Mendell grabbed 7 rebounds.

“It was a good win – a conference win,” said Coach Evers. “Our rebounding was not what it should be. We have to box out better.”

Nsaia Rogers topped the Whiteville scoring with 17 points.

The Lady Eagles, now 3-0 overall, will host South Columbus Tuesday night.

EAST BLADEN (57) – Erica McKoy 13, Kaley Smith, Izzy Smith, Shardajah Brown, Anna Kate White 4, Abbie Cross, Kabarah Moore, Patience Ward 19, Ashley Hardin 3, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson 13, Lorna Mendell 5.