01/29/10 — EW-SJ boys game

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EW-SJ boys game

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 29, 2010 1:46 PM

Deja vu.

Eastern Wayne staged a furious late rally and thrilled the crowd with a last-second shot, and held off South Johnston 71-67 in double overtime on Thursday night. The Warriors swept the regular-season, Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference series.

A heroic decided each outcome. Little-used reserve guard A.J. Coley was the culprit this time around.

With just 39 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, South Johnston built a 60-55 advantage on a basket by star shooter Dalton Bledsoe. Eastern Wayne answered with a bucket from Marvin Bowman Jr. with 11 seconds on the clock and proceeded to make the play of the season in New Hope.

The Trojans attempted to throw a long inbounds pass into the backcourt, but the ball was tipped and eventually wound up in the hands of Coley. The diminutive senior pulled up well behind the 3-point line, buried the game-tying shot and forced a second extra session.

"I really couldn't even see the goal when I shot it," said Coley. "I knew someone had to step up and I was fortunate that I got that opportunity, but I was pretty nervous."

The Warriors asserted themselves in the final four-minute period.

Bowman Jr. and fellow forward Lavonte McKiver each scored four points in the second overtime and the home team's four-point victory was fittingly sealed when Coley sank a free throw in the closing seconds.

"We had some guys come into the game in key situations and really make some huge plays," said Eastern Wayne head coach Marvin Bowman. "Both teams wanted to control the ball and play deliberately, and it set up a real dog fight tonight."

Bledsoe paced South Johnston early.

The talented senior scored all 11 of the Trojans' first-quarter points and led the unit into the locker room at halftime with all five of the squad's field goals in his scoring column.

Once Eastern Wayne (9-7 overall, 4-2 ECC) grabbed a two-point lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter, it was Bledsoe who answered the bell. Trailing 47-45 with just 16 seconds left in the game the Trojans found Bledsoe on the left wing. After passing up a jumper, Bledsoe drove to the hoop and drew a foul. The two buckets from the charity stripe forced the first overtime.

Bledsoe finished with 29 points and nine rebounds.

Eastern Wayne was led by Will White's 17-point outing. Lamar Best added 13 points and McKiver finished with 12 points. Bowman Jr. rounded out the Warriors' double-figures scorers 10 points.

The Warriors moved within one game of league co-leaders Charles B. Aycock and Southern Wayne.

"We have put ourselves in a good position," said coach Bowman. "We lost a two-point game to Triton the first time, so scratching out a win this time around would be very big."