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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

ELIZABETHTOWN – Junior Patience Ward poured in 20 of her game-high 30 points as East Bladen rode a 51-point second half to a 76-53 victory over Whiteville in the Three Rivers Conference girls basketball opener for both teams.

The Lady Eagle surge actually began in the final 2:04 of the first half after Whiteville had pulled to within 19-17. Ward raced for a pair of transition lay-ups, and senior Erica McKoy sent an assist to senior Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson for a lay-up and a 25-17 halftime lead.

Moore-Peterson put back a rebound, Ward flipped in a baseline runner, and McKoy turned a steal into a lay-up to begin the second half. Moore-Peterson canned 2 free throws then stole the ball and sprinted for a lay-up and a 35-17 Lady Eagle lead.

Trinity Smith interrupted the 16-0 East run with a free throw, but Ward hit a free throw, McKoy tossed in a runner and junior Lorna Mendell scored on a follow that grew the lead to 40-18 at the 4:35 mark.

“It was our first home game, and it was Whiteville,” said Lady Eagle Coach Patty Evers. “So I thought we came out nervous and too excited. We talked about our lack of focus at halftime, and coming out with a lot of energy in the second half.”

Freshman Mya McDonald converted a rebound into a 3-point play, Ward dropped in a lay-up and popped in a runner and a free throw, and Moore-Peterson nailed a 3-point shot as the East lead grew to 50-29 at the quarter break.

Ward scored a trio of transition lay-ups – two off of Moore-Peterson assists and one off of an assist from senior Ashley Hardin – and sank 2 free throws. McKoy pumped in a runner then bombed in a 3-point shot.

Ward scooped in a lay-up and added a free throw to give East Bladen their biggest lead of the night at 66-33 with 3:51 remaining.

Moore-Peterson racked up a double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals. McKoy finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Ward grabbed 8 rebounds to go with her 30 points.

Hardin pulled down 9 rebounds and had 4 assists and 3 steals. Mendell corralled 5 rebounds, and McDonald totaled 3 assists.

“I am proud of them for what they did in the second half,” said Coach Evers. “It all started with our defense that created the offense and led to those easy baskets.”

Moore-Peterson sent a pass to McKoy for a lay-up to start the game, then converted a steal into a lay-up. Another Moore-Peterson assist produced a Ward lay-up. Moore-Peterson buried a 3-point shot and knocked down a 16-footer to push East in front 15-10 at the first quarter break.

Trinity Smith topped the Whiteville scoring with 18 points, and Marquasia Smith chipped in with 9 points.

The Lady Eagles improved to 2-0 and will travel to West Brunswick Wednesday night for a non-conference game.

Whiteville     10    7  12  24 – 53
East Bladen  15  10  25  26 – 76

EAST BLADEN (76) – Katie Evans, Erica McKoy 13, Lily Lin, Mya McDonald 3, Alexus Mitchell 6, Anna Kate White 2, Abbie Cross 2, Patience Ward 30, Ashley Hardin, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson 18, Lorna Mendell 2.

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