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NCHSAA Class 2A Girls State Basketball Play-offs: East Bladen 65, Midway 56

ELIZABETHTOWN – Junior Erica McKoy fired in 13 of her 17 points in the final quarter to help East Bladen preserve a 65-56 victory over Midway Thursday night in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 2A Girls Basketball State Play-offs.

Junior Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson and sophmore Patience Ward both posted double-doubles in the game. Moore-Peterson led the Lady Eagles with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 2 steals. Ward finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocked shots.

“Survive and move on,” said East Bladen Coach Patty Evers. “We turned the ball over way too much (27 turnovers) and missed a lot of easy shots and free throws. But we will get in the gym tomorrow and work on that.”

The Lady Eagles ran their winning streak to 23 consecutive games and raised their record to 27-1. East Bladen, the No. 5 seed in the East, will travel to No. 4 seed Richlands Saturday for a third round game.

East Bladen entered the final quarter with a 41-35 lead. McKoy grabbed a long rebound and raced for a lay-up to begin the period. Sophmore Lorna Mendell made a free throw, but Midway star Leah Williams threw in a 3-point shot to slice the margin to 44-38.

Moore-Peterson dashed down the floor for a transition lay-up, but Williams answered with a lay-up. Junior Ashley Hardin sank two free throws, and McKoy stole the ball and sprinted for a lay-up and a 50-40 East lead with 5:11 left.

Williams hurled in a runner for Midway, but McKoy banked in a runner, and Ward cashed in two free throws to pad the Lady Eagle lead to 54-44 with 2:31 remaining.

McKoy popped in a pull-up jumper then made two free throws to keep the margin at 58-47. Williams who poured in 27 points for Midway connected from 14 feet and teammate J. J. Sankey made two free throws to close the gap to 58-51 with 53 seconds on the clock.

Moore-Peterson connected on all four of her free throws in the final 25 seconds, and McKoy made 3 of 4 free throws in the closing seconds. After missing 13 of their first 19 free throws, the Lady Eagles rallied to make 13 of their final 14 free throw attempts to finish 19 for 33 from the foul line for the game.

Williams scored the first five points of the game for the Lady Raiders. McKoy canned a free throw, but Maddie Royal’s bank shot put the visitors up 7-1. Hardin drained a 3-point shot, and Ward put back a rebound then turned a McKoy assist into a lay-up and an 8-7 East lead.

A Williams lay-up pushed the visitors in front for the final time at 10-8. Ward muscled in a rebound, before Moore-Peterson hit a free throw then beat the first period buzzer with a 3-point bomb that gave the Lady Eagles a 14-10 lead.

Hardin drained another 3-point shot, and Ward put back a rebound for a 19-10 lead. McKoy tossed in a runner and tacked on a free throw to pad the East lead to 22-12.

Williams and Jenna Pope rallied the Lady Raiders to within 24-20 with four points each. Moore-Peterson dished a feed to Ward for a lay-up then buried a 3-point shot from the right wing for a 29-20 lead. J. J. Sankey’s lay-up trimmed the margin to 29-23 at halftime.

Ward opened the second half by turning a steal into a lay-up then scored on a follow shot. Mendell flipped in a jump-hook that stretched the lead to 35-25. Moore-Peterson turned a rebound into a 3-point play, and Hardin hooked in a baseline runner for a 40-27 East lead.

Six points from Royal rallied the Lady Raiders to within 41-35 at the quarter break.

McKoy finished with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Senior Shardajah Brown collected 3 steals. Hardin racked up 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Mendell pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked 2 shots.

“Lorna came up really big for us in the post,” said Coach Evers. “And Ashley kept us in the game in the first half.”

Sankey and Royal followed Williams on the Midway scoring list with 8 points each. The Lady Raiders conclude their season with a 23-3 record.

EAST BLADEN (65) – Erica McKoy 17, Kaley Smith, Izzy Smith, Shardajah Brown, Anna Kate White, Patience Ward 16, Ashley Hardin 10, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson 19, Lorna Mendell 3.

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