East Bladen High School
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WILMINGTON -Junior Marlee Cook keyed an early 19-4 spurt that propelled Wilmington Ashley to a 64-35 victory over East Bladen Wednesday in the Hoggard Holiday Classic.

Marlee Cook, a 6-foot junior, dropped in 4 baskets and a free throw as the Screaming Eagles built an early 15-2 lead en route to a 21-7 advantage at the quarter break.

“We missed a lot of lay-ups at the beginning,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers. “We didn’t shoot well and could never get in an offensive flow. But give Ashley credit that is a good team.”

The taller Ashley team led by Marlee Cook and 6-2 sophomore Bella Cook dominated the boards outrebounding East Bladen 26-10 in the first half and 42-26 for the game.

Senior AnnaGrey Heustess nailed a 3-point shot, and sophomore Laila Smith and senior Maegan Burney made baskets for the East points in the opening quarter.

Laila Smith popped in a 10-footer to begin the 2nd period, and Heustess converted a Burney assist into a lay-up. Burney netted a transition lay-up, and Laila Smith trimmed the Ashley lead to 21-14 with a free throw.

Ashley freshman Brianna Stanley halted the East run with a 3-point shot, but Heustess answered with a 3-pointer to slice the lead to 24-17 at the 3:12 mark. A Burney lay-up kept East within 26-19, but the Screaming Eagles closed the half with a 10-0 run for a 36-19 lead.

Laila Smith raced end-to-end for a 3-point play to start the 2nd half. Sophomore Iveonna “NeNe” Ward drained a 3-point shot, and Laila Smith banked in a 6-footer to pull East within 38-27, before a 17-4 Ashley run pushed the margin to 55-31.

Another Heustess 3-point shot, a lay-up and a free throw by Laila Smith and 2 free throws by freshman Cabria Baldwin closed out the East scoring.

Laila Smith posted a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds and had 2 steals to lead the East Bladen attack. Heustess finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. Burney added 6 points.

Stanley topped the Ashley scoring with 15 points, and Morton threw in 13. Marlee Cook followed with 12 points, and Bella Cook totaled 8 points.

It was the first loss of the season for East Bladen, now 8-1. The Lady Eagles will play Wilmington Laney Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Hoggard Holiday Classic. Ashley improved to 7-1 with the win.

Ashley           21  15  19 8 – 64
East Bladen  7  12  12  4 – 35

ASHLEY (64) – Sawyer Rigdon, Angel Tran, Mackenzie Morton 13, Julia Ager, Josie Conway, Brianna Stanley 15, Jaedon Hudson 5, Madisyn Jackson, Megan Howard, Anna Benfield 7, Suzanne Moore 2, Alaina Boos 2, Bella Cook 8, Marlee Cook 12.

EAST BLADEN (35) – Iveonna “NeNe” Ward 3, Martha Simmons, Ariel Cromartie, Cabria Baldwin 2, AnnaGrey Heustess 11, Karli Priest, Zoe Smith, Maegan Burney 6, Laila Smith 13, Nia McKoy, Brianna Phillips, Niyah Wooten.