04/16/2024
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By John Clark

FAIRMONT — Juniors Chase Williams and Hezekiah Adams combined for 41 points and West Bladen rode a 30-13 2nd half surge to a 47-33 boys’ basketball victory over Midway in the Southeastern Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals Wednesday night.

West Bladen, now 21-2, advances to Friday’s 7:30 tournament championship game against St. Pauls’ who upset Fairmont 48-45. The West Bladen win, coupled with the Fairmont loss, clinched the SAC’s No. 1 seed for the state playoffs since the Knights advanced further in the conference tournament. Midway, now 15-8, will await the release of the state playoff brackets Saturday.

Chase Williams posted a double-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. Adams also recorded a double-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds and 3 steals. Sophomore Tylik McCall buried a pair of 3-pointers for 6 points. Senior Andre Moore grabbed 5 rebounds, and sophomore Jackson Pait snared 3 rebounds.

The teams traded baskets throughout the 1st period. Chase Williams canned 2 foul shots and an elbow jumper, and Adams dashed for a lay-up then put back a rebound. Chase Williams dropped in an ‘Alley-Oop’ lay-up off a Pait assist for a 10-6 lead, but Midway sophomore Jacob Holland answered with an 8-footer to trim the margin to 10-8.

McCall drilled in a 3-pointer to begin the 2nd quarter. Chase Williams hurled a long assist to Adams for a lay-up then powered in a turn-round shot to boost the Knight lead to 17-10 with 5:04 left in the half.

The Knights then went scoreless for the final 5 minutes as Ke’mari McNeil scored 6 points during a 10-0 rally that vaulted the Raiders in front 20-17 at halftime.

“We started good, but then we lost our minds for about 5 minutes,” said Knight Coach Travis Pait. “I don’t know if it was the shock of seeing what happened in the previous game – your biggest rival getting knocked out. But we talked to them nicely at halftime and we played much better in the 2nd half.”

Chase Williams stuffed in a semi-dunk to start the 2nd half, and Adams flipped in a floater then nailed a 3-pointer to push West ahead 24-22. Freshman Tanner Williams pulled Midway even with a baseline runner. Chase Williams spun to the hoop for a lay-up, but McNeil soared high on a drive to tie the game a final time 26-26.

Chase Williams put back his own miss and tacked on a free throw, and Adams cashed in 2 free throws then scored on a follow shot for a 33-26 Knight lead at the quarter break.

Chase Williams sank 2 free throws, but Tanner Williams kept Midway within 35-30 with a baseline jumper. Adams converted a Chase Williams assist into a lay-up, and McCall bombed in a corner 3-ball. Moore delivered a nifty pass to Williams for a lay-up, and Adams raced for a transition lay-up to cap a 9-0 run that upped the count to 44-30 with 3:01 left.

McNeil stopped the run with a 3-ball, but Chase Williams hammered in a dunk off an Adams assist then added a free throw for the final 47-33 margin with 1:28 on the clock.

“We had about 3 chances to really take control of the game,” continued Coach Pait. “But Midway made a play each time. I thought we were better defensively – except for that 5-minute stretch in the 1st half. We could have held them in the 20’s except for that.”

McNeil, a junior, led Midway with 11 points. Holland, Tanner Williams and junior Anthony Graham scored 6 points each.

Midway             8  12    6    7 — 33
West Bladen  10   7  16  14 — 47

Midway (33) — Tripp Westbrook 4, Andre Gregory, Tanner Williams 6, Ke’mari McNeil 11, Collin Woods, Wyatt Herring, Jacob Holland 6, Anthony Graham 6.

West Bladen (47) — Jackson Pait, Hezekiah Adams 19, Tylik McCall 6, Kendell Lessane, Andre Moore, Cornelius Esters, Ty’Leak Ballard, Chase Williams 22.

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