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LAKE WACCAMAW – West Bladen’s Lady Knights kept their hopes of qualifying for the NCHSAA Class 2A Girls Basketball Playoffs alive Saturday with a 38-31 victory over Whiteville in the Three Rivers Conference play-in game to determine third-place.

“It’s up to the computer and the committee now,” said Lady Knight Coach Brian McCleney. “I was proud of the girls for being focused and ready to play. Saturday games are tough, and they could have just went through the motions, but they didn’t.”

West Bladen improved to 16-8. The TRC gets 2 automatic bids that will go to St. Pauls and East Bladen, but if the league receives a third bid when the bids are released Sunday afternoon, it will be West Bladen.

Senior Lexie Corrothers posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Knights, and senior teammate Mikayla Meadows just missed a double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Senior Kasee Singletary totaled 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, senior Seniah Johnson added 5 points, and sophomore Haley George grabbed 4 rebounds.

Seniah Johnson answered a 3-pointer by Whiteville’s I’Reona Johnson with a 3-ball of her own to start the game. Meadows banked in a pair of lay-ups off of assists from Corrothers and George to put the Lady Knights up 7-3 early.

Corrothers drove for a lay-up, and George made a free throw for a 10-7 West Bladen lead. The Lady Wolfpack turned a pair of Lady Knight turnovers into lay-ups for Alexandria Bellamy and Trinity Smith that vaulted Whiteville in front 13-10.

After McCleney called a time-out, the Lady Knights closed the half with a 10-0 run. Freshman Lainey Autry nailed a baseline jumper, Meadows converted a feed from Singletary into a lay-up. Corrothers sent a pass to Seniah Johnson for a lay-up, raced end-to-end for a lay-up then canned a corner jumper for a 20-13 halftime lead.

A Bellamy 3-ball trimmed the margin to 20-16 as the Lady Knights suffered a series of turnovers against the Whiteville full-court press. However Corrothers rallied West with a basket off of a rebound. Meadows cashed in a trio of free throws, and Autry delivered an assist to freshman Rylee Chadwick for a transition lay-up and a 27-18 lead at the third quarter break.

Singletary dropped in a transition lay-up, and Meadows powered in a follow-shot for a 31-22 lead. Singletary and Corrothers sank 2 free throws each for a 35-24 West lead at the 2:15 mark. Singletary hit another free throw then found Meadows with an in-bounds pass for a lay-up and a 38-28 lead with 48 seconds left.

Sophomore Trinity Smith led Whiteville with 10 points and 6 rebounds. I’Reona Johnson followed with 8 points.

The 16 wins is the most by a West Bladen girls basketball team since 2013. The Lady Knight seniors have posted a 31-19 record over the last 2 seasons. “They are a really good group, and I am proud of what they have accomplished,” said McCleney.

Whiteville         5     8     5   13 -31
West Bladen    7    13    7   11 -38

Whiteville (31) – Trinity Smith 10, Alexandria Bellamy 5, Marnasia Smith, Ruth Maldonado 4, Teonna Hall, Jazmin Faison 4, I’Reona Johnson 8, Emily Hewett, Tessa Nicholson.

West Bladen (38) – Lainey Autry 2, Haley George 1, Kasee Singletary 5, Lexie Corrothers 10, Seniah Johnson 5, Rylee Chadwick 2, Mikayla Meadows 13, Hannah Pait. 

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