04/17/2024
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By Sonny Jones

ELIZABETHTOWN — NeNe Ward exploded for 40 points and East Bladen got off to a quick start Tuesday night in beating North Edgecombe 83-63 in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A girls’ basketball playoffs

The Eagles (22-4) advance to play Chatham Charter (24-2), a 59-43 victor against Pender on Tuesday. The game is scheduled Friday in Siler City at a time to be determined.

Diamond Wilson scored 33 points for North Edgecombe (16-9). The Warriors were Tar Roanoke Conference co-champions with Northampton County.

Lalia Smith had 26 points for the Eagles. Smith was presented a basketball after Tuesday’s game in recognition of reaching 1,000 career points during last Friday’s 50-43 loss to East Columbus in the Waccamaw Conference tournament championship game.

East Bladen scored the first six points — a pair of baskets by Smith and a layup by Ward — and were never headed. The Eagles led 13-2 three minutes into the game and 28-9 at the end of the first quarter with Ward scoring 14 points.

Seven consecutive points by Ward gave East Bladen a 46-18 lead midway through the second quarter. North Edgecombe reeled off 13 straight points, eight by Wilson, that pulled the Warriors to 46-31 in the closing seconds of the half.

Any plans that North Edgecombe had for a second half rally ended during a three minute stretch in the third quarter. East Bladen went on a 14-0 run, led by Ward’s nine points, that put the Eagles ahead 69-37.

North Edgecombe scored 12 of the final 14 points in the game to trim a 30-point deficit to 20 points.

Ward had four 3-point field goals and made both of her free throws. She scored 14 points in the first quarter, 12 in the second, 12 in the third and had a basket in the fourth. Ariel Cromartie added 10 points for the Eagles.

North Edgecombe’s Wilson scored 19 points in the first half and 14 in the second half. The Warriors’ Ke’Ziyah Pittman had 13 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and ChyAsia Garrett 11 points for the game.

North Edgecombe  9  22  10  22 — 63
East Bladen            28  19  25   11 — 83

North Edgecombe (63) — Diamond Wilson 33, Ke’Ziyah Pittman 13, ChyAsia Garrett 11, Le’Lah Jenkins 4, D’Ketriah Whitaker 2, ShyNiya Ricks, Teana Ransome, Zamria Edmonds.

East Bladen (83) — NeNe Ward 40, Laila Smith 26, Ariel Cromartie 10, Aaliyah Monroe 3, Cabria Baldwin 2, Taylor Dowless 2, Nevaeh Brown, Tyliah Freeman, Tatum Allen, Zoe Smith, Niyah Wooten.

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