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Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament West Bladen 78, Whiteville 62

Junior Sayaun Dent and sophmore Shaquille Johnson posted double-doubles and led West Bladen to a 68-52 boys basketball victory over Whiteville Monday night in the opening round of the Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament at West.

Dent led the Knights with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Johnson finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“Sayaun really came out and played tonight,” said West Bladen Coach Travis Pait. “He had a great defensive game. Shaq (Johnson) had some really good spurts for us too.”

With Dent and Johnson leading the way, the Knights outrebounded the Wolfpack 39-23. The Knights also held an advantage at the foul line, converting 15 of 28 free throws, while the Wolfpack made 4 of their 5 attempts.

“We didn’t get to the foul line, we didn’t stop the ball on defense and we didn’t rebound,” said Wolfpack Coach Jerry Singletary. “We got good shots, but we just didn’t knock them down.”

Junior John Bowen returned after missing two games with an injury and scored 11 points for the Knights. “John Bowen really gave us a lift tonight,” said Coach Pait. Senior guard Stefan McDonald contributed 6 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists for the Knights.

Whiteville raced to an early 15-4 lead as guard Tyrell Kirk bombed in a trio of 3-point shots. Johnson turned a Dent feed into a lay-up, and a McDonald pass set up a Bowen lay-up. Monchovia Gaffney’s follow shot kept the Wolfpack lead at 19-10 at the quarter break.

Demetrius Brown drove for a lay-up and a 3-point play that pushed the Wolfpack lead to 22-10, before the Knights rallied with 12 unanswered points.

Dent put back a rebound and hit a free throw, and Johnson converted a McDonald assist into a lay-up, banked in a short jumper and scored on a follow-shot. Bowen nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner to tie the game.

Two B. J. Edwards free throws edged Whiteville ahead, but Knight senior Malique McDowell canned 2 free throws, Bowen dropped in a lay-up and Dent turned a rebound into a 3-point play and a 29-24 West Bladen lead.

Free throws by Kalvin Page and McDowell stretched the Knight lead to 31-25, before Kirk beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-point shot that sliced the West lead to 31-28.

A McDonald assist resulted in a Page lay-up that began the second half. McDonald buried a 17-footer from the key, and Dent banked in a runner. Johnson buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to pad the Knight lead to 40-30.

A McDonald pass led to another Dent lay-up, and Page drove for a lay-up that kept West Bladen’s lead at 44-34 at the third quarter break.

Sophmore Jonathan Robinson scored inside on a turn-around, Dent drove for a lay-up and Johnson drove for back-to-back lay-ups and tacked a free throw onto the second one that grew the lead to 52-36 with 5:28 left to play.

Freshman Keshawn Lewis drained a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Dent fired in a 17-footer. Bowen worked the baseline for a lay-up, and Johnson drove for another basket that kept the lead at 61-46 with 2:54 remaining.

McDonald sank 3 free throws, and Dent made 4 more in the final 1:51 to seal the victory for the Knights.

“It was nice to come-from-behind and win like that,” said Coach Pait. “I thought once we settled in that we played better.I thought Kalvin Page came in and did a great job for us on Kirk.”

Kirk blistered the nets with six 3-point shots and led all scorers with 24 points. Brown followed with 9 points for the Wolfpack.

West Bladen improves to 6-1 with the victory and will play Four County Conference foe Midway at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the tourney semi-finals. Whiteville will take on South Brunswick at 4 p.m.

West Bladen (68) – Kalvin Page 3, Jimmy Williams, Keshawn Lewis 5, Stefan McDonald 6, Sayaun Dent 19, Malique McDowell 4, Shaquille Johnson 18, Jonathan Robinson 2, Will Lambeth, John Bowen 11.

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