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The Pinecrest boys basketball team stands with the runner-up trophy at the West Bladen Christmas Tournament Thursday after a 63-47 loss to Laney in the title game.

Not even the hot shooting start from the Pinecrest boys basketball team in the championship game of the West Bladen Christmas Tournament could help out the cold slump the Patriots faced over the final 11-plus minutes Thursday night versus Laney.

With one made basket from the field over the final 11 minutes of the ballgame, a third-quarter lead was quickly erased and then surpassed by Laney for a 63-47 win to clinch the title.

“The ball stopped moving and we couldn’t hit a shot,” Pinecrest coach Kellen Parrish said. “We were getting looks, but it just wasn’t falling for us. Their intensity picked up defensively. We got careless with the basketball and we just couldn’t seem to get the ball through the hoop to get our confidence back up.”

A Christian Freeman bucket with 3:41 left in the third quarter helped the Patriots (7-4) out to a 44-38 lead. What would follow was turnovers partly caused by Laney’s (9-1) defense and shots that clanked off the rim after many found the bottom of the net in the first half.

A Colby Wallace free throw and a made jumper from the right wing from Nehemiah Thomas accounted for all of the scoring for Pinecrest in the fourth quarter.

Along with turnovers not allowing Pinecrest to get into a flow in the second half, the backcourt was without senior starter J.J. Goins for the matchup.

Laney junior forward Joe Bachman was named tournament MVP and scored four of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Bucs posted 19 points in the fourth quarter, and 25 points during the Patriots scoring drought.

“We have to just let it go. We can take a couple days off and let it go. We come back Monday morning to refocus for the conference,” Parrish said.

The first half was a stark contrast of offensive production for Pinecrest.

After posting 15 points in the first quarter, the Patriots scored 19 points in the second quarter and took a 34-31 lead into the halftime locker room.

“That’s what we can do,” Parrish said of his team’s start. “That’s the team that I envision us being. That’s the team that we are going to be going forward. We have to be able to maintain that through the first half and throughout the whole game.”

The Patriots drained eight 3-pointers in the first half, with four coming off the hand of senior Thomas Mandell and Wallace adding three triples in the second quarter. The pair finished with 12 points each in the loss, but combined for one point total in the second half.

Thomas scored nine points and Christian Freeman added eight.

Wallace garnered all-tournament honors for his production over the three games at West Bladen.

Laney’s Joshua Helms scored 17 points to lead all scorers.

Pinecrest returns to Sandhills Athletic Conference play against Southern Lee Tuesday at home.

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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