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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

ELIZABETHTOWN –Senior Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson racked up a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead East Bladen to a 72-34 victory over Oxford Webb in the opening round of the NCHSAA Class 2A girls basketball play-offs.

Moore-Peterson was also credited with 5 steals and 3 assists. Junior Patience Ward just missed a double-double with 17 points and 8 rebounds. “Patience had her best practice of the year yesterday,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers. “She came out confident, strong and happy tonight. Her motor never stops.”

Senior Erica McKoy filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Freshman Maya McDonald tallied 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.

Senior Ashley Hardin added 5 points and 4 assists, and junior center Lorna Mendell pulled down 5 rebounds and blocked 5 shots. “Lorna did a good job rebounding and altering shots,” said Coach Evers. “I am proud of all of them.”

Moore-Peterson and Hardin nailed 3-point shots as the Lady Eagles grabbed an early 6-2 lead. After Webb’s Meri Bostic closed the gap to 6-5 with a 3-ball, East Bladen responded with a 9-0 run.

A pull-up 8-footer from Moore-Peterson ignited the run. Ward put back a rebound, McKoy popped in a 10-footer, and Moore-Peterson delivered another 3-ball for a 15-5 lead. McKoy followed up her own miss, but Bostic knocked down another 3-pointer to keep the Lady Warriors within 17-10.

Moore-Peterson sank 2 free throws, and freshman Maya McDonald stole the ball and raced for a lay-up. Ward connected from 10 feet, and Moore-Peterson drained her third 3-pointer of the period for a 26-10 lead at the quarter break.

Ward started the second quarter with a lay-up and a free throw, Hardin scored a basket, and McDonald put back a rebound for a 33-10 lead. McKoy sandwiched free throws around a pair of put-backs by Webb’s Ta’ida Tucker.

A McDonald free throw and a bank shot by McKoy pushed the East lead to 38-16, but Asha Latta’s 3-pointer and another Tucker lay-up trimmed the margin to 38-21 at halftime.

“We kind of stood around in the second quarter and didn’t run our offense,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers. “But they responded to what me and Alan (Assistant Coach West) told them at halftime.”

A Hardin assist to a cutting Moore-Peterson produced a lay-up, and Moore-Peterson bombed in another 3-ball for a 43-23 lead. After Webb’s Connita Evans scored in transition, the Lady Eagles answered with a 15-1 blitz.

Moore-Peterson hit a free throw, and McDonald made 2 foul shots. Ward muscled in a rebound and scored again off of a McKoy assist. McDonald cashed in 2 free throws then turned a Moore-Peterson feed into a lay-up.

Ward scored on a follow then turned a Hardin assist into a lay-up for a 58-26 lead. Connita Evans halted the run with a 3-ball, but senior Anna Kate White flipped in 2 free throws for a 60-29 East lead at the quarter break.

“Defense creates offense,” said Coach Evers. “We played better offense and rebounded better once we picked up our defense. We got out and ran the floor and filled our lanes.”

A McKoy assist led to a Ward lay-up, and Moore-Peterson made 2 free throws for a 64-29 lead to start the final period.

Moore-Peterson fired in her fifth 3-ball of the night, and McKoy popped in a 16-footer and a baseline jumper to push the lead to 71-31 and start the mercy rule running clock at the 4:52 mark. A Katie Evans free throw accounted for the final Lady Eagle point.

Connita Evans and Tucker shared scoring honors for Webb with 8 points each.

East Bladen improved to 27-1 with the victory and will host High Point Andrews – a 44-34 first round winner over North Pitt – Thursday night.

Oxford Webb 10  11    8     5 – 34
East Bladen    26  12  22  12 – 72

EAST BLADEN (72) – Katie Evans 1, Erica McKoy 12, Lily Lin, Maya McDonald 11, Anna Kate White 2, Abbie Cross, Kabarah Moore, Patience Ward 17, Ashley Hardin 5, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson 24, Lorna Mendell.

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