DUBLIN – East Bladen’s Eagles rode an 18-5 closing spurt to their second consecutive boys basketball victory Friday – a 75-63 win over First Flight in the Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament.
Senior Sincere Smith muscled in a follow shot with 6:15 remaining that put the Eagles ahead to stay at 59-58. Bryon Bowen put back a rebound then hit two free throws, and junior Keshaun Davis drove for a lay-up and a 65-58 East lead.
Bowen turned a feed from junior Pierce Melvin into a lay-up and a 67-59 lead, but Nighthawk sharp-shooter Dylan Blake drained a long 3-pointer and tacked on a free throw to slice the margin to 67-63 with 51 seconds left.
Senior Adonis Avery sank 4 free throws and converted a Melvin assist into a lay-up. Messiah Leach added two more free throws to account for the final margin.
“The kids played hard and played together more as a team,” said Eagle Coach Kenzil McCall. “I told Sincere that as a senior it was time for him to turn this thing around. He has responded and played hard, and the underclassmen have followed.”
Smith led a trio of Eagles who posted double-doubles in the game. Smith recorded a second consecutive double-double with 23 points and a whopping 16 rebounds. East Bladen dominated the backboards outrebounding First Flight 48-26.
Avery fired in 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Bowen pulled down 13 rebounds to go with his 13 points. Bowen moved into a starting role Friday with Javant McDowell sidelined with an ankle injury.
“I told Bryon to be ready when he got his chance,” said Coach McCall. “I was pleased with the way he played.”
Leach and Davis added 8 points each to the Eagle attack. Blake, a sophmore, bombed in nine 3-point shots and topped all scorers with 36 points. Teammate Jordan High pumped in a trio of 3-pointers and totaled 16 points. The Nighthawks made 14 3-point shots in the game.
Blake nailed a pair of 3-balls to start the game. Smith turned a Bowen feed into a lay-up, and Davis tossed in a floater, but another Blake 3-pointer made it 9-4. Davis and Bowen answered with lay-ups, but Blake launched another 3-ball and hit 2 free throws for a 14-8 lead.
Robert Cooley converted a Melvin assist into a lay-up, Smith powered in a rebound, and Leach stole the ball and darted for a lay-up that tied the game 14-14. High buried a 3-ball and flipped in a runner for a 19-14 First Flight lead at the break.
Smith banged in a lay-up off of a Davis assist, and Davis turned a steal into a lay-up to pull East within 21-18. Lay-ups by High and Tyler Witt stretched the Nighthawk lead to 28-19.
Bowen ignited a 15-0 Eagle blitz with a lay-up off of a Leach assist and added a free throw. Smith put back a pair of follow-shots, Davis flipped in a 4-footer, Bowen netted a lay-up and Avery threw in a runner and a follow shot for a 34-28 East lead.
After a Blake 3-point play, Avery buried a 3-pointer from the corner for a 37-31 Eagle halftime lead.
A Blake 3-ball began the second-half, but Smith put back a rebound, and Leach raced to the basket for a pair of lay-ups. Smith bounced down the baseline for a bank shot and a 45-34 East lead with 5:33 left in the period.
Four Nighthawk 3-balls – 2 by Blake, one each by High and Will Hala – keyed a 15-4 run that pulled First Flight even at 49-49. Reashoid Pone pumped in a baseline jumper, and Smith hurled in a runner for a 53-49 East lead, but another Blake 3-ball whittled the margin to 53-52.
A Bowen follow shot and a driving basket by Avery pushed East ahead 57-55 before Blake struck again with another 3-ball that pushed First Flight in front 58-57.
The Eagles host Three Rivers Conference foe East Columbus Tuesday night.
EAST BLADEN (75) – Adonis Avery 19, Bryon Bowen 13, Robert Cooley 2, Keshaun Davis 8, Zaire Turner-Dotson, Messiah Leach 8, Pierce Melvin, Sincere Smith 23, Reashoid Pone 2.