East Columbus Boys coach Marcus Skipper called it the “Christian Laettner” play. With nine-tenths of a second remaining in the game, Gator D.J. Williams threw an almost full-court length pass to Donovan Worley. Worley caught the pass and hit the shot, giving East Columbus a 69-68 win over West Bladen in Saturday’s TRC tournament opening round.
It was a game of surges. The Gators led 20-11 after one quarter. West Bladen held a 34-31 lead at halftime. West Bladen opened up a 40-33 third quarter advantage. Trey Brown’s two, three-pointers fueled a 12-0 Gator run and East took a 45-40 lead. East led 53-51 heading into the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter saw opportunities for the lead to change on every possession. Trey Brown was fouled while scoring with 14 seconds remaining to tie the score at 66-all. His free throw gave the Gators a one-point lead. It appeared two successful Knights’ free throws with nine-tenths of a second left sealed the win for West Bladen before the Williams to Worley heroics.
East Columbus’ eight to four advantage in three-pointers offset West Bladen’s 16-4 edge in made free throws. Graylan Daniels scored 16 points to lead East Columbus. Tyree Burney added 12. T. J. Barr and Trey Brown contributed 11 each. Shyron Adams scored 13 points for West Bladen.
South Robeson defeated East Bladen 60-44 in other opening round boys play.
In girls opening round play, West Bladen edged South Columbus 40-38. The Stallions led after each of the first three quarters, but could not hang on for the win. Carson Powell led South Columbus with 10 points. Caila Turbeville added nine.
South Robeson defeated Fairmont 61-41 to advance.