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Laney Big Shots Hoop Fest    Senior Lacey Suggs posted a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds, and senior Abby Ward made 4 key free throws late to lift East Bladen to a 46-42 non-conference basketball victory over Jack Britt Friday in the opening game of the Laney Big Shots Hoop Feast at Wilmington Laney High.

Ward sank 4 of 6 foul shots in the final 29 seconds after the Lady Eagles had missed 17 of their first 21 free throw attempts. “What Abby did at the line helped pull the game out for us,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers.

With Ward’s late flurry the Lady Eagles finished 8 for 27 at the foul line. “I am in shock,” said Coach Evers. “We shot 70 per cent at the line last year. I don’t know if we are tired because we play so fast and try to push tempo.”

Suggs added 4 steals and 2 assists to her double-double totals. “I can’t say enough about Lacey,” continued Coach Evers. “She does so many things for us.” Suggs was named the Big Shots Most Valuable Player for the game.

Suggs hooked in a follow, junior Emily Scott put back a rebound, and Suggs spun to the basket on a post move to give East Bladen an early 6-4 lead.

Senior Christiana Cromartie’s drop-step move at the low post resulted in a basket, and Ward canned a corner jumper to up the count to 10-4. The Lady Eagles led 11-6 at the quarter break.

Scott dropped in a rebound bucket in transition, senior Miller Heustess popped in a 15-footer, and Suggs cut to the basket for a lay-up off of a Cromartie feed that stretched the lead to 17-8.

After Britt’s Aniya Williams bombed in a 3-point shot, Suggs worked the give-and-go with freshman Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson for another lay-up. Freshman Ashley Hardin muscled in a rebound, and Moore-Peterson turned a Ward pass into another lay-up and a 23-11 lead 3:22 before halftime.

Britt answered with a Sharina McLeod lay-up and a pair of Lauren Moore foul shots to whittle the lead to 23-15. However Suggs drove for a pair of lay-ups to keep East ahead 28-20 at halftime.

Britt’s Kailen Young nailed a 3-pointer to start the second-half, but Ward swished a foul line jumper, and Scott powered in a follow shot to push the East lead back to 32-23. Six more points from Young pulled the Lady Buccaneers to within 34-30 at the quarter break.

Suggs stole the ball and raced for a lay-up to begin the final period, then banked in a runner from the lane to push the lead to 38-31.

Williams turned a runner into a 3-point play, but Suggs worked the give-and-go again with Cromartie for another lay-up. Moore-Peterson tossed in 2 free throws to keep the lead at 42-35 with 3:17 remaining.

Britt worked the boards for a pair of rebound baskets to narrow the gap to 42-41 with 54 seconds left. Ward hit 1 of 2 free throws at the 29 second mark, and made 1 of 2 again with 5 seconds on the clock for a 44-41 lead.

Young made a free throw to close the gap to 44-42, but Ward sealed the verdict by making 2 free throws with 2 seconds left.

Ward finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Scott added 6 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals, and Hardin grabbed 8 rebounds.

“Emily and Ashley did a super job on the boards for us,” said Coach Evers. “Ashley gave us good minutes, while Chris (Cromartie) was in foul trouble.”

Cromartie totaled 5 rebounds despite missing almost 13 minutes of action due to fouls. Both Cromartie and Hardin fouled out.

Young recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Lady Buccaneers. Williams followed with 11 points, and Lauren Moore and McLeod totaled 8 points each for Britt.

East Bladen, now 3-0, will play Hoke County Saturday at 10 a.m. at Laney in the Big Shots Hoop Feast. Hoke lost 29-27 to the host Laney team Friday.

East Bladen (46) – Abby Ward 9, Lexie Mendell, Emily Scott 6, Lacey Suggs 20, Miller Heustess 2, Christiana Cromartie 2, Ashley Hardin 3, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson 4.a

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