04/16/2024
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By John Clark

OCRACOKE — Two days and almost 200 miles of travel plus a boat ferry ride couldn’t slow down East Bladen Tuesday night as the Eagles, the No. 25 seed in the Class 1A basketball playoffs, rode a 29-17 2nd half surge to a 52-39 opening round victory over No. 8 Ocracoke.

Coach Aking Elting’s Eagles improved to 11-12 and will travel to Calypso Friday night to battle No. 9 seed North Duplin (16-9), the Carolina 1A champions who defeated Tarboro 90-70 in their Tuesday night opener.

Senior Rodney Lacewell, a 6-7 senior, recorded a double-double of 11 points and 16 rebounds as the Eagles dominated the backboards 42-20. Junior Dominick Collins dished out 8 assists and tallied 11 points for the winners, and senior Lee Barnes drilled in a pair of 3-pointers and scored a team-high 12 points. Barnes also came up with 3 steals, and Lacewell blocked 2 shots.

Sophomore Keyshawn Kemp just missed a double-double with 8 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals. Junior Kewone Maynor fired in 8 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and had 3 assists. Senior Peyton Tatum corralled 4 rebounds.

Collins raced for lay-ups off a Maynor assist and a Tatum blocked shot then dropped in another lay-up in transition to start the game. Tatum delivered an assist to Lacewell for a lay-up and an early 8-5 lead. Ocracoke went up 11-8, but Kemp stole the ball and dashed for a lay-up that whittled the margin to 11-10.

Collins flipped an interior pass to Maynor who popped in a 6-footer for a 12-11 East lead, but Danny Badillo’s 3-ball and a Finn Kattenburg runner gave the Dolphins their largest lead 16-12. Barnes buried a 3-point shot, and Collins stole the ball then pitched ahead to Barnes for a lay-up. Kemp banged in a rebound to vault the Eagles ahead 19-18.

Another Collins assist resulted in a Kemp lay-up, and Lacewell put back a rebound for a 23-22 East halftime lead.

Gavin Elicker’s 3 points rallied the Dolphins in front 25-23, but Barnes sent an assist to Maynor for a lay-up, and Collins banked in a runner for a 27-25 East lead. Maynor tossed in a follow shot, before Elicker tied the game a final time 29-29 with 3:37 left in the period.

Barnes drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Collins scooted to the rim for a reverse lay-up, Lacewell sank a free throw, and Maynor hurled a long outlet pass to Barnes for a lay-up and a 37-29 lead at the quarter break.

The Eagles continued to work the ball inside to start the final quarter. Kemp snatched a rebound and dished an assist to Lacewell for a lay-up. Collins delivered assists to Kemp and Lacewell for lay-ups that padded the lead to 43-30.

Collins racked up assists to Barnes and Maynor for 2 more lay-ups, and Tatum muscled in a follow shot. A Maynor assist produced another Lacewell lay-up, and Collins cashed in a free throw for the final East point.

Elicker led the Dolphins with 11 points, and Badillo tallied 8 points. Ocracoke finished their season with a 19-6 record.

East Bladen  10  13  14  15 — 52
Ocracoke       11   11    7  10 — 39

East Bladen (52) — Dominick Collins 11, Chace Butler, Sherman Long, Shannon Hankins, Lee Barnes 12, Kewone Maynor 8, Peyton Tatum 2, Keyshawn Kemp 8, Rodney Lacewell 11.

Ocracoke (39) — Danny Badillo 8, Landon Fuller, Carter O’Neal, Noah O’Neal 5, Mau Guerrero 3, Gavin Elicker 11, Finn Kattenburg 6, Walker Salee, Rahnier Lyons 6, Uriel Guerrero.

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