The MHS girls won as expected, while the BIC boys upset regular-season champion Marmaduke in the boys division.
All four teams advance to this week's Northeast Regional tournament at Turrell. Also in the tourney are the Bay and Walnut Ridge boys and the Bay and Riverside girls.
Freshmen Step Up
The inclusion of a pair of freshmen into the BIC lineup at tournament time proved to be a decisive factor in the BIC Mustangs' drive to the boys title.
Brandon Ballard, a smooth-playing freshman, was a real standout for the Mustangs. He scored 24 (including 20 in the first half) in a semifinal win over Bay and came back the next night with 26 against Marmaduke.
Josh Shepherd showed outstanding ball-handling skills and also scored 12 points against Marmaduke and six in the Bay win.
Both players came off a 30-1 BIC junior high team that rolled to the seventh straight district tournament title for the school.
"It's hard to believe ninth graders can make that much difference, but they did," Marmaduke coach Steve Richey said after the game. "It seems that their intensity level was a lot greater with them in there."
Marmaduke had defeated BIC in a couple of close games in the regular season.
"Our freshmen just played very well," said BIC coach Bill Taylor. "They seem to make everyone else around them play better...they are just special players."
Taylor said moving the freshmen up at district tournament time was something discussed within his program all season long. "It's not like it has been a surprise for anybody."
Both coaches agreed that a change in momentum late in the first quarter and into the second was the big key to the game.
Marmaduke got off to a great start in the hard-fought game.
A three-pointer by Marmaduke's Shane Jordan gave the Hounds their biggest lead , 14-4, late in the first frame.
Ballard then came back with a conventional three-point play to close the gap to seven, then he followed with another basket to make it 14-9.
A shot Taylor described as huge came at the buzzer as Cal Rose nailed a trey to make it 14-12.
The second quarter was the "Mark Hawkins Show" as the sophomore canned four three-pointers to put the Mustangs in a strong position.
The shots came as a result of good penetration and outstanding ball movement by the Mustangs.
BIC scored 26 points in the crucial period as the Hounds also had trouble getting their shots to fall.
Ballard scored eight points in the period as the Mustangs moved into a 38-27 halftime edge.
BIC continued its three-point spree in the third period, hitting four more -- three by Ballard and one by Shepherd.
Conventional three-point plays by Adam Oglesby and Jordan helped keep Marmaduke within striking distance, but the Mustangs still led by 58-44 heading into the final period.
The Hounds never got closer than that in the final period as BIC went on to the 73-58 win.
BIC now stands 15-15 for the season, while Marmaduke is 26-10 heading into the regional event.
Joining Ballard and Shepherd in double figures for BIC were Mark Hawkins 12, Erick Lyerly 12 and Rose 11.
Josh Bateman paced Marmaduke with 16 points. Joining him in double figures were Jordan with 14 and Oglesby 12. Also scoring were Josh Lewallen 7, John Clark 4, Brent Richardson 3 and Jordan Gott 2.
Marmaduke hit 26 of 31 free throws in the game while BIC went 10-12 at the line.
"One of the keys to us in the game was that our bad start didn't bury us," Taylor said.
"We started getting some better shots and Marmaduke also got in some foul trouble," the coach said.
"Early in the game we were trying to do too much off the dribble and we finally started getting some better ball movement."
The Mustangs will meet Marked Tree in the regional tournament at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. BIC will have to win two games to advance to the state tournament the following week at Jessieville.
"We always have to face some very athletic teams from the south," Taylor said.
In fact, District 3AA-South has produced the state champion the past two seasons -- Earle and Marked Tree.
"We'll have to rebound well to have a chance to advance," Taylor said.
Regardless of how the Mustangs do in the regional tournament, the BIC program now can point to two straight district crowns. "We are very proud of that," Taylor said.
"We got away from our game plan a little bit," coach Richey said after the game. He also cited foul trouble by his team as an early factor.
"The momentum just seemed to change," Richey said. "I'll say this for BIC -- when they smell blood, they go after it."
Richey said the addition of the ninth graders gives BIC a very solid club. "They have three or four kids who can shoot the three, they are able to penetrate and they have good post play -- all the components of a great ball club."
Richey said Jordan had a good game for the Hounds and that he improved his play over the last few weeks.
"We just have to have some people keep stepping us for us to make us multi-dimensional rather than looking for one man all the time."
Marmaduke will face a tough task in its first round game, meeting traditionally-strong Earle at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Girls Game Close Early
BIC stayed with a powerful Marmaduke girls team for awhile, but the Lady Hounds' overall strength and outstanding defensive ability finally wore down the Lady Mustangs.
The game was tied 4-4 midway through a hard-fought first quarter, but Marmaduke's Brooke Grigsby hit a pair of baskets to put the Lady Hounds up 8-4 heading into the second frame.
Grigsby and Lindsay Bell hit shots early in the second period to put the Hounds up 12-4.
The Lady Mustangs kept taking the ball inside, but had trouble making free throws. BIC hit only two of seven in the second quarter as Marmaduke started to pull away.
A free throw by Morgan Milligan closed the gap to 14-8 with a free throw at the 2:24 mark, but Marmaduke took control by scoring the final seven points of the second period.
Those points came on baskets by Beth Grigsby and Lauren Wright and a dramatic three-pointer by Bell at the buzzer, leaving MHS up 21-8 at intermission.
Marmaduke broke the game open with outstanding pressing and half-court defense. Brooke Grigsby keyed the scoring as the Hounds rolled to a 30-10 lead.
The Lady Greyhounds were on top 35-15 at the end of the third period and ended up winning 44-21.
Marmaduke moved to 38-2 with the victory. BIC stands 16-15.
Brooke Grigsby scored 17 points to pace the Lady Hounds. Also scoring were Bell 8, Beth Grigsby 6, Sarah Rogers 4, Teri Graham 3, Smith 2, Wright 2 and Heather Johnson 2.
Valerie Willyerd led B IC with 12. Scoring two each were Emily Sparkman, Sara Walker, Sasha Barnett and Tara Roach. Morgan Milligan had one point.
"I thought we played extremely well defensively both in the press and in half-court situations," said Marmaduke coach Matt Dean.
"We had trouble scoring early, but their defense did a good job on us. These conference tournaments are tough in that regard since everybody knows each other so well."
"Brooke Grigsby played well as always and Lindsay Bell hit a very big shot for us to close the first half," the coach said. "Erica Smith also did a good job defensively against their best offensive player."
Dean said he has had several good defensive teams in his tenure at Marmaduke and this may be his best-ever in the half-court play.
The Lady Hounds open regional play at 4 p.m. Wednesday against Marked Tree.
Looking to the regional, Dean said a key for his team will be improving its rebounding and continuing to work on blocking out.
"We gave a great effort," said BIC coach Mike Kinard. "Their defense took us out of everything that we wanted to do.
"Our offense struggled but we had a great defensive first half.
"They are a great team," Kinard said of Marmaduke. "Coach Dean does a great job"
It was the first time since 1991 that the Lady Mustangs were in the finals of the district tournament. "I am very proud of this team," the coach said.
BIC will meet Earle on Thursday in the regional tournament at Turrell.
Other Tournament Games
Marmaduke Boys 64
Walnut Ridge 41
Marmaduke's boys won a semifinal game Thursday over Walnut Ridge. The game was tied 15-15 after one frame, but the Hounds moved ahead 29-24 at intermission. The winners were ahead 48-34 after three periods on the way to a 64-41 win. Scoring for Marmaduke were Josh Bateman 18, Brent Richardson 9, Shane Jordan 7, Josh Lewallen 7, Chris Keen 5, Adam Oglesby 4, John Clark 4, Jordan Gott 4, Chase Henson 3 and Bruce Wallace 3. Ronnie Tagge led Walnut Ridge with 17 and Brett Shrable with 11.
Marmaduke Girls 72
The Marmaduke girls defeated Bay, 72-45, in a Thursday semifinal. Quarter leads for the winners were 23-9, 35-26 and 57-34. Marmaduke scoring included Brooke Grigsby 21, Lindsay Bell 15, Heather Johnson 10, Lauren Wright 10, Beth Grigsby 7, Erica Smith 7 and Sarah Rogers 2. Bay scoring was Jessica Moreno 19, Amber McMasters 8, Lindsey Stewart 7, Jodi Pratt 4, Lee Davis 4, Jessica McMasters 2 and Kim Bradford 1.
BIC Boys 83
The BIC boys pounded Bay 83-53 in a Thursday semifinal matchup. Quarter leads were 27-8, 45-19 and 64-36. Scoring for BIC included Brandon Ballard 24, Erick Lyerly 15, Mark Hawkins 12, Carl Rose 9, Zack Whited 7, Josh Shepherd 6, Kevin Davis 4, L.B. Cole 3, Billy Meeks 2 and Ryan Wallace 1. Scoring for Bay were Ryan Prince 14, Cameron Campbell 14, Derek McMasters 8, Brett Hogan 4, Byron Forehand 4, Matt Price 3 and Michael Nix 2.
BIC Girls 34
BIC advanced to the tournament finals with a Thursday night 34-31 win over Riverside. The game was tied 9-9 after two periods and 19-19 after three. BIC scorers were Morgan Milligan 10, Valerie Willyerd 8, Sara Walker 7, Rachel Taylor 5, Leslie Cobb 2 and Holly Cagle 2. Miranda Stephens led Riverside with 13. Other scorers were Amanda Dunigan 9, Melody Ward 4, Keryn Douglas 3 and Chelsea Couch 2.
Walnut Ridge Boys 60
Walnut Ridge defeated Riverside, 60-53, in an overtime quarterfinal game on Tuesday night. Riverside led 15-10 after one period, but Walnut Ridge rallied to lead 27-24 after two frames and 36-35 after three. The game was tied at 48 in regulation. Scoring for Riverside were Jacob Couch 15, Steven Dewitt 15, Joe Ellis 7, Matt Owens 7, Dustin Kelems 6 and Josh Sneed 3. Ronnie Tagge had 28 for Walnut Ridge.
Bay Girls 63
Walnut Ridge 30
The Bay girls won a quarterfinal game Tuesday night over Walnut Ridge, 63-30. Quarter leads were 9-4, 19-15 and 44-21. Scoring for Bay were Amber McMasters 15, Jessica Moreno 12, Kim Bradford 10, Jessica McMasters 9, Jodi Pratt 7, Lindsey Stewart 4, Ashley Shoemaker 4 and Amy Ballew 2. Sarah Penn led Walnut Ridge with 12.
Bay Boys 65
Bay defeated host Rector, 65-51, in a Monday quarterfinal game. Quarter leads were 15-13, 30-21 and 46-31. Scoring for Bay were Ryan Prince 13, Cameron Campbell 13, Derek McMasters 10, Byron Forehand 8, Michael Nix 8, Robby Bollinger 7, Brett Hogan 5 and Sye Barnett 1. Rector scoring included Jonathan Pratt 15, James Hemphill 11, Wes Harmon 10, Ryan Carpenter 8, Billy Scott 3, Justin Goodman 2 and Matt Hill 2.
BIC Girls 56
BIC's girls defeated host Rector in a Monday quarterfinal game, 56-29. Quarter leads were 14-0, 26-4 and 40-22. Rector scoring included Fallon Roberts 8, Toby Morris 5, Lyndsey Bell 5, Jessica Hill 3, Sara Parmenter 2, Angelia Tucker 2, Beth Copeland 2 and Natalie Sigsby 2. BIC scorers were Sara Walker 13, Morgan Milligan 11, Valerie Willyerd 10, Holly Cagle 7, Leslie Cobb 6, Rachel Taylor 5, Emily Sparkman 2 and Tara Roach 2.