(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
BIC came into Thursday night's 3AA North Conference match-up against Riverside sporting a 16-4 overall mark and a 7-1 conference record, while the Lady Rebels were 12-10 overall and 2-4 in league play.
With Riverside leading 7-6 in the first quarter, the Lady Mustangs went on a 11-2 run to close out the first quarter and then extended their lead to 31-16 at the half and it looked as though BIC was on their way to an easy victory.
But Riverside Coach Greg Rainwater's troops made some halftime adjustments and turned the momentum in Riverside's favor as the Lady Rebels closed the gap to 39-34 after three quarters. Riverside's Sam Dunigan started the third quarter scoring the first eight points as Riverside got back into the game and had the Lady Mustangs scratching their heads.
Riverside continued their comeback in the final period and completely erased what once was a 15 point BIC lead to take a 42-41 edge when Amanda Milligan hit two free throws with just under 3:00 to play.
But just as BIC had done in the first half, they turned up their full court pressure defense and when Dunigan fouled out seconds after Milligan had given the Rebels the lead, Riverside proceeded to turn the ball over on three straight possessions. BIC went on to outscore the Rebels 7-0 the rest of the game to salvage a 48-42 victory Thursday night at Caraway.
BIC was led by freshman Jessica Shepard who put in a team high 17 points while Nan Lee Bridges hit some key free throws in the last minute, finishing with 11 points. Ashley Tate scored nine, Kasey Garrett netted six, Stephanie Baldridge tallied three, while Katie Olive chipped in two to round out the Lady Mustangs' scoring. BIC managed to get to the charity stripe 25 times, hitting on 15, while the Lady Rebels were only 2-8 from the free throw line.
Riverside was led by Marisa Johnson's game high 18 points while Dunigan finished with eight, all in the third quarter. Emilee Hook came off the bench to score six, Miranda Boyd netted four, while Amanda Milligan, Audrey Booth and Emma Wilson chipped in two points each.
The big key of the game was BIC's ability to cause turnovers off their tenacious press, as Riverside turned the ball over 29 times in the game.
With the win, BIC improves to 17-4 overall and 8-1 in the conference while the Lady Rebels fall to 12-11 overall and 2-5 in conference play.
"I thought at the end of the game we showed how tough we are, because Riverside got the lead and had all the momentum and the crowd," BIC Coach Mike Kinard said. "But we toughened up and played really well the last few minutes. Our game plan coming in was to pressure the Rebels. We felt like if we didn't they would pound it inside to Johnson (Marisa). It was a hard fought game, a great game and a great atmosphere. We would have liked to have played better with the lead we had, but you have to remember they are kids. I was proud we were tough enough at the end to hold on. This was a big win for us," Kinard concluded.
"I was very pleased with our effort," Riverside Coach Greg Rainwater said. "The first half is what killed us. We didn't want the ball. Their press had us rattled. We would take one dribble, pick it up and turn it over. We had 19 turnovers in the first half alone and 29 for the game. That's just way too many. But we battled back and showed great effort and got the lead. But when Sam (Dunigan) fouled out, we didn't score again. We had BIC on their heels, but we kind of panicked at the end and didn't get good looks at the basket. We are playing a lot harder than we were earlier in the year. BIC is a good team. We had a chance to beat them but didn't finish the deal. We really missed Natasha Coffey tonight. She is our third leading scorer and has really been playing well as of late. But everyone has injuries that you just have to play through, so that is not an excuse for losing the game,"Rainwater concluded.
In junior high action, Riverside ripped BIC 44-19 as Briana Driver scored 13 points to lead the Lady Rebels. Katey Campbell scored six, Morgan Emery and Kasey Davis scored five each, Jamie Lawrence netted four, while Kailey Holt added three. Kassie Douglas and Holly Dudley scored two points each while Kelsey Turner added one for the Lady Rebels. Riverside finished 8-15 from the free throw line and led 8-3 after the first quarter before blowing the game open by outscoring BIC 21-3 in the second period, taking a 29-6 halftime lead.
BIC was led by Corie Flanigan's eight points. Chelsie Nix added five, while Jordan Miller and Lauren Smith scored three points each. BIC hit 5-13 from the charity stripe. The Lady Mustangs saw their overall record drop to 3-13 and their conference mark to 0-8.
In the seventh grade game, Riverside defeated BIC 21-6 as Michelle Cobb poured in 13 points. Ashley Calvert netted six points while Magan Wells added two.
BIC will return to action Monday night as they host Rector at Monette before hosting Maynard Thursday night at Leachville.
Riverside will host Bay Monday night at Lake City and will entertain Walnut Ridge Thursday night at Lake City.