FAIRMONT – Senior Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson posted a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds and led East Bladen to a 64-37 victory over Whiteville Friday night in the Three Rivers Conference Tournament championship game.
Senior Erica McKoy filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Junior Patience Ward finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Freshman Maya McDonald tallied 7 points, and senior Ashley Hardin pulled down 10 rebounds and had 3 steals. Senior Anna Kate White tallied 5 points and 6 rebounds, and junior Lorna Mendell grabbed 6 rebounds.
The Lady Eagle defense held Whiteville scoreless from the field for almost 7 minutes as East built a 10-1 lead. McKoy put back a rebound, and Ward raced for a lay-up after Moore-Peterson created a Lady Wolfpack turnover.
McKoy scored in transition, and assists from Hardin and McKoy resulted in a pair of lay-ups for Moore-Peterson and a 10-1 Lady Eagle lead.
Senior Marquasia Smith rallied Whiteville with a lay-up and a 3-point bomb, and junior Jazmin Faison tied the game 10-10 at the quarter break with a lay-up.
Ward started the second period with a follow shot, but Faison’s short bank shot tied the game a final time 12-12. Hardin drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing to ignite a 17-3 Lady Eagle blitz. McKoy drove for a pair of lay-ups, tacked on a free throw and nailed a 3-point shot for a 23-12 lead.
After another Marquasia Smith 3-ball, McDonald sank a free throw and added a transition lay-up. Moore-Peterson buried a 3-ball as the lead grew to 29-15 at halftime.
A basket, a steal and a 3-pointer by Whiteville freshman Trinity Smith sliced the lead to 29-21. McKoy jetted end-to-end for a lay-up, but Marquasia Smith answered with a 3-pointer and a free throw to trim the margin to 31-25.
Moore-Peterson turned a McKoy assist into a lay-up then lobbed in a high-arching tear-drop and tacked on a free throw. A Hardin in-bound pass produced a lay-up for Mendell and stretched the lead to 38-25.
Ward drove for a lay-up, Moore-Peterson hit a free throw, and White fired in a 3-pointer. McDonald beat the buzzer with a lay-up off of a Moore-Peterson assist as the lead grew to 46-29.
McKoy canned a 16-footer and 2 free throws to begin the final quarter then popped in a baseline jumper. Moore-Peterson double-clutched a lay-up in traffic then pumped in a 16-footer for a 56-31 lead.
Ward put back a rebound and flipped in a 6-footer off of a McKoy assist. McDonald and White closed out the East scoring with lay-ups.
“We were all over the place in the first half and not seeing the whole floor,” said Lady Eagle Coach Patty Evers. “When we started running our lanes and seeing the whole floor, things opened up for us.”
Marquasia Smith topped the Whiteville scoring with 19 points, and Faison followed with 7 points.
“We needed that kind of game,” noted Coach Evers. “Whiteville has improved a lot this season, and (Coach) Serena (Smith) has done a great job with them. They should do well in the play-offs.”
East Bladen improved to 26-1 overall and is expected to a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the Class 2A East when the brackets are announced Saturday. The Lady Eagles are the TRC regular-season and tournament champions. “I am very proud of this team,” said Coach Evers.
Whiteville 10 5 14 8 – 37
East Bladen 10 19 17 18 – 64
EAST BLADEN (64) – Katie Evans, Erica McKoy 20, Lily Lin, Maya McDonald 7, Anna Kate White 5, Abbie Cross, Kabarah Moore, Patience Ward 10, Ashley Hardin 3, Ja’Tyra Moore-Peterson 17, Lorna Mendell 2.