BAY -- Coming into Friday night's 3AA North Championship boys' game, host Bay seemed to have all the ingredients for a major upset. Not only did the Yellowjackets have the home court advantage, but they were playing their best basketball of the year having lost only two games since the Christmas break.
However, Bill Taylor's Buffalo Island Central Mustangs had other ideas as sophomores Brandon Ballard and Josh Shepard combined for 41 points in capturing their third straight District Title with a convincing 75-59 victory.
An overflow crowd, which included ASU head basketball coach Dickey Nutt, watched the Mustangs put on a three point shooting display combined with a tenacious full court press enroute to a number one seed in next week's Regional Tournament at Marmaduke.
Bay gave the hometown folks hope early on behind back to back treys from junior guard Robbie Bollinger to build a five point lead, but before the quarter was over BIC drilled five treys of their own to claim a 26-16 lead after the first period.
Both teams started the second quarter slowly before Mustang's Shepard began to find the range as BIC went to the dressing room up 39-26.
Bay continued to battle in the second half behind senior Ryan Prince, who led all Bay scorers with 22 points, but the 31-2 Mustangs had too many weapons and squelched any hopes for a Jacket comeback.
"I'm very excited for our players and fans," Taylor said. "I was very proud to win in a touch environment such as Bay. Josh Shepard had a great game and Brandon Ballard was his usual steady self. We've had an excellent year and look forward to next week's Regionals," added Taylor.
Bay Coach Shawn Tillery said to beat a team as good as BIC they must miss some of their shots and that just didn't happen.
"We played hard early, but BIC went on a run that left us somewhat shellshocked," said the first year Bay coach.
"I was very proud of our team and the fact they played hard. I thought the key in the game, esides their outside shooting, was how they broke us down on the dribble which left them with a lot of open looks," added Tillery.
Bay, which dropped to 20-12 on the year, had Robbie Bollinger join Prince in double figures with 12 points. Davey Webb had eight while Cameron Campbell, Brett Hogan, and Derek McMasters each scored four. Sye Barnett pitched in three and Michael Nix added two to round out the scoring for the Jackets.
BIC was led by Ballard's 22, while Shepard scored 19 including five three pointers. Freshman Brooks Taylor had seven as did Mark Teguns; Cal Rose, Mark Hawkins and Brett Sexton had six each, while freshman Cord Rose added two.
BIC will open Regional play at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday against the fourth seed from the 3AA South Parkin, who was the NEA runner-up.
Bay will open Regional action Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against Marked Tree, the 3AA South third seed.