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Junior Tyrell Kirk pumped in 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second half as Whiteville defeated East Bladen 51-42 Wednesday in the Fifth-Place Game of the Woodmen Life Christmas Tournament at West Bladen High.

Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

The Wolfpack led 36-33 after 3 periods, and Whiteville’s Monchovia Gaffney started the final quarter with a lay-up. Kirk drilled a 17-footer and then hit a short jumper from the lane for a 42-33 lead. After 2 missed Eagle free throws, B. J. Edwards’ lay-up upped the count to 44-33.

Senior Dayvon Powell banked in a runner, and senior center Chris Cromartie put back a rebound to keep the Eagles within 45-37, but the Wolfpack spread the court and took 3 minutes off the clock with no scoring.

After a Kirk lay-up, senior Jermaine Robinson drained a 3-point shot to pull East within 47-40 with 51 seconds remaining. However Whiteville’s Germaine McNeil and Demetrius Brown made 2 free throws each to ice the victory.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach (Ken) Cross and I know his kids will play physical basketball,” said Wolfpack Coach Jerry Singletary. “I didn’t think we matched their physicality in the first half. I told them at halftime we had to do a better job rebounding. As a team we grew up a little bit today. It’s nice to get a win and go into the Christmas break on a good note.”

Whiteville outrebounded the Eagles 20-6 in the second half after the Eagles held a 23-12 rebound advantage at halftime. The Wolfpack forced ten East Bladen turnovers in the second half, after the Eagles only committed 3 turnovers before intermission.

“I told our kids at halftime that they would turn up the pressure on defense, and we didn’t handle it,” said Coach Cross. “We didn’t box out either.”

Robinson topped the Eagle scoring with 10 points, and Sincere Smith, Cromartie and Eian Hines scored 6 points each. Eian Hines added 6 rebounds. Powell and Ethan Hines grabbed 5 rebounds each. Ethan Hines had a team-high 5 steals.

Smith drained a corner 3-ball then hooked in a follow shot to keep the Eagles within 8-5 in the first quarter. Eian Hines put back a rebound, and Robinson bombed in a 3-point shot to slice the Whiteville lead to 14-10.

Kirk popped in a pull-up jumper and scored on a follow to stretch the Wolfpack lead to 18-10 at the quarter break.

Junior Denzel Johnson stole the ball and raced for an Eagle lay-up to begin the second quarter, but Whiteville pushed the lead to 24-13.

The Eagles roared back to close the half with 8 straight points. Junior Derrick Burney cashed in a free throw, and Eian Hines banked in a runner then added a free throw. Cromatie hit a foul shot, and freshman Adonis Avery popped in a 6-footer. Cromartie spun to the basket for the basket that trimmed the margin to 24-21 at halftime.

Cromartie began the second half with a free throw, but the Wolfpack pounded the boards and scored their next 4 baskets on rebounds in transition.

Eian Hines knocked down a 12-footer, and Powell flipped in a one-hander from five feet to keep the Eagles within 34-26. Ethan Hines banked in a runner and tacked on a free throw, and Robinson banked in a pair of runners to close the gap to 36-33 at the quarter break.

The Eagles, now 3-7, will host Pender on Jan. 4th.

East Bladen (42) – Denzel Johnson 2, Jermaine Robinson 10, Demetrius Wooten, Dayvon Powell 4, Ethan Hines 5, Eian Hines 6, Sincere Smith 6, Chris Cromartie 6, Trevor Lloyd, Adonis Avery 2, Derrick Burney 1.

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