04/17/2024
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By John Clark

FAIRMONT — West Bladen’s 6-7 junior Chase Williams and St. Pauls’ 6-9 Tyson Thompson battled on practically even terms Friday night, but in the overtime period Williams and his teammates made enough plays to win the Southeastern Athletic Conference Tournament Championship 37-31 before an overflow crowd in the Michael Baker Gymnasium.

Bulldog junior Tykeem Oxendine drilled in a shot from 8 feet behind the 3-point line to tie the game 29-29 with 10 seconds left in regulation. Oxendine had also nailed the 3-pointer at the buzzer Wednesday that lifted St. Pauls past Fairmont.

Thompson opened the overtime with a rebound basket, but Williams followed up his own miss to knot the score 31-31. Sophomore Jackson Pait tossed in a 12-foot runner from the left elbow to edge West ahead 33-31 at the 1:29 mark. Junior Hezekiah Adams stole the ball then then got it back on an assist from Williams and dropped in a lay-up for a 35-31 lead with 1:04 on the clock.

Senior Andre Moore grabbed a key rebound, and in the final seconds the Bulldogs had to commit 5 fouls just to put the Knights on the foul line. They never got there as Williams stole a pass and banked in an 8-footer at the buzzer.

Coach Travis Pait’s Knights improved to 23-1 and are expected to receive either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed when the playoff brackets are released Saturday. The Knight record reflects that the Nov. 30 game has been deemed a forfeit by Hoggard due to an ineligible player. St. Pauls, now 13-14, should also receive a playoff bid Saturday.

“It was a playoff atmosphere; an exciting game,” said Coach Pait. “Corey (St. Pauls Coach Thompson) does a great job over there. We kept our composure. We knew the shots will fall at some point.”

Coach Pait continued, “I thought the defense played well. Hezi made 2 or 3 unbelievable plays on defense. Andre and Chase had some big steals. Kendell (Lessane) had 2 big rebounds. We showed we could play at different speeds and that we can grind it out when we need to.”

Williams posted a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, 2 steals and 2 assists. Adams finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. Pait tossed in 10 points and had 3 steals. Moore contributed 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Thompson recorded a double-double for the Bulldogs with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Oxendine followed with 8 points.

Adams opened the game with a lay-up, but Jamarcus Smith’s follow shot tied it for the Bulldogs. Pait who was sent to the locker room in the game’s 1st minute with a shoulder injury returned and buried a long 3-ball for a 5-2 Knight lead.

However, Thompson answered with a dunk and a lay-up for a 6-5 Bulldog led. Williams sank 3 of 4 free throws in the final 1:32 to edge West ahead 8-6 at the break.

Williams converted an assist from Adams into a lay-up for the only Knight basket in the 2nd period, but Theo Setzer popped in a 15-footer, Jamir McMillian scooped in a lay-up and Thompson beat the buzzer with a lay-in for a 12-10 St. Pauls’ halftime lead.

Lay-ups by Markeon Fletcher and Oxendine padded the Bulldog lead to 16-10. Adams turned a Moore assist into a lay-up, stole the ball and dashed for another lay-up then snatched a rebound and scooted end-to-end for a lay-up that whittled the lead to 17-16.

After a Thompson follow shot, Moore fired in a corner 3-ball to knot the score 19-19. Setzer and Fletcher pumped in 14-footers, before an Adams’ free throw trimmed the St. Pauls’ edge to 23-20 at the quarter break.

Williams powered in a rebound basket, and Pait bombed in a long 3-ball to vault West ahead 25-23, but Oxendine answered with a 3-ball for a 26-25 Bulldog lead. The Knights began fouling to get St. Pauls to the line, but Adams stole the ball and Pait swished a pull-up 10-footer from the baseline for a 27-26 lead.

Williams hammered in a dunk off a Tylik McCall assist with 29 seconds left, before Oxendine’s 3-ball sent the game to overtime.

St. Pauls          6  6   11  6  2 — 31
West Bladen  8  2  10  9  8 — 37

St. Pauls (31) — Theo Setzer 4, Chris Bryant, Jakhi Purcell, Markeon Fletcher 4, Tykeem Oxendine 8, Tyson Thompson 11, Antonio Arnold, Jamir McMillian 2, Jamarcus Smith 2.

West Bladen (37) — Jackson Pait 10, Hezekiah Adams 11, Tylik McCall, Kendell Lessane, Andre Moore 3, Ty’Leak Ballard, Chase Williams 13.

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