East Bladen’s improbable run in the Four County Conference Tournament came to an abrupt halt on Friday night at Pender High School. The Eagles, winners of only 1 conference game during regular season play, had won two straight to advance to the finals against the Dark Horses who didn’t seem to be impressed by the Eagles late season run. Clinton came out of the gates strong, taking an early lead, and building it steadilly on the way to the 86-50 rout of the Eagles.
The Dark Horses used 10 first quarter points from Dewan Lesane to build an early lead. Lesane, used his length to pressure the Eagles into several turnovers that he turned into easy baskets, staking Cliton out to a 21-12 lead at the end of the first.
The Dark Horses did not slow down in the second quarter, increasing their lead to 42-23 before the first half horn had sounded. Kris Williams and Jeremiah Pope teamed for 10 points during the second frame to help Clinton to a commanding halftime advantage and all but put the game out of reach for the Eagles.
Pope insured that the Eagles would not stage a second half comeback, scoring 18 of his game high 26 points in the third and fourth quarters. Pope nailed 4 second half 3-pointers, stretching the East Bladen defense to its limits. By the time the Dark Horse reserves entered the game late in the fourth quarter the Dark Horse celebration was in full throat and the two game Eagle win streak was a thing of the past.
After the game Clinton head coach Randy Jordan applauded his team’s hard work, saying, “I’m really proud of and happy for these guys, they set a goal and worked hard in practice everyday to accomplish their goals. The biggest thing with this group is they really enjoy playing with and for each other, they like each other and it shows on the floor, they are a lot of fun to coach.” Jordan continued, stressing that things change for the team next week, “now things get interesting, it is truly survive and advance in the state playoffs, we don’t know who we play yet or anything about our next opponent. We will find out tomorrow who we play on Tuesday, get tape on Sunday and go to work Monday getting ready. The good thing is we are home and will get three games in home as long as we take care of business and advance.”
Clinton Senior’s Mike Kramer and Tyion Wright talked after the game about what the season has meant to them. Kramer said, “this feels good, we have made history his season going undefeated in conference play and winning 22 straight.” Wright echoed his coaches comments about the team chemistry of this year’s squad, adding “this year we got our minds right and really focused on our goal to win championships, we have already made history at CHS but we want to finish strong and do something that has never been done here, win the championship.”
Clinton was led by Jeremiah Pope’s game high 26 points, Dewan Lesane pumped in 18 and Kris Williams added 11 for the Dark Horses. Demitrius Wooten paced the Eagles with 11 points and Eian Hines chipped in 10.
Clinton improves to 24-2 on the season as they prepare for the upcoming state playoffs. The Dark Horses will host a first round game on Tuesday night at 7:30, as of press time the opponent for Monaday had not been determined. East Bladen falls to 4-23 on the season.
Reach Daron Barefoot at firstname.lastname@example.org.