BIC claims 5th straight district tournament title

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
BIC's Nick Birdno, with assistance from Lance Davis, takes his turn at cutting down the net at Walnut Ridge Friday night. BIC claimed the 3AA North District Tournament title with a 69-62 win over Bay. (Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)

Brooks Taylor scored 31 points and Brandon Ballard poured in 29 more as Buffalo Island Central won their fifth consecutive 3AA North Conference District Tournament Championship before a packed house Friday night at Walnut Ridge.

BIC, now 36-3 on the year, fell behind early, 6-2, and then exploded, going on a 19-0 run to close the first quarter with a 21-6 lead. From then on, it was just a question of what the final margin of victory for the Mustangs would be, as they raced to a 45-24 halftime lead en rout to an 82-53 thrashing of the second seeded Yellowjackets.

"We were really in a good rhythm, both offensively and defensively," Buffalo Island Central Coach Bill Taylor said. "Our effort and intensity were outstanding, and our big two, Brooks (Taylor) and Brandon (Ballard), did what they were supposed to do. They did their thing. We put outstanding defensive pressure on their guards on the perimeter. We broke down their offense which kept their inside game in check. Rose (Cord), Rolland (Derek), and Smith (Hunter) all did an outstanding job defensively for us tonight," Taylor said.

"This was our fifth straight district tournament title," continued Taylor continued. ( This is a great accomplishment, considering how tough and competitive this league is year in and year out. We are very proud of that to be able to beat these good teams repeatedly. I am very proud of that. We are a different team this year than a year ago. I feel like we are a tougher team, plus we are not as perimeter oriented. Brooks really crashed the boards tonight and got a lot of offensive rebounds, and Brandon came out on fire from the three point line. I am really proud of my team. I can't say enough about them," Taylor concluded.

"We knew we had to play excellent man to man defense, but they were able to break us down," Bay Coach Brandon Craig said. "Brooks took it to the hole and whenever they missed they got the offensive board and stuck it back in. They did whatever they wanted to do offensively, and their defensive pressure hurt us. They just dominated every phase of the game," Craig said.

Bay placed three players in double figures as Derek McMasters, Garrett Bollinger and Seth Southard all scored 11 points apiece.

Both coaches garnered individual honors as Bay's Craig received the 3AA North Coach of the Year honors while BIC's Taylor was nominated as an All-Star Coach.

"I am very honored to get the Coach of the Year Award,"Craig said. "There are a lot of great coaches in this league and I feel very fortunate to get this honor," stated the second year coach.

BIC's Brandon Ballard picked up the Shawn Tillery Award as the Most Outstanding Player in the 3AA North Conference for the second year in a row.

"I am very proud of winning this award for the second straight year," Ballard said. "I really loved and respected Coach Tillery and this is a great honor to have this plaque hanging at BIC," Ballard said.

Ballard said it feels great to win the district title for the fourth straight time in his career.

"We are trying to relax right now and trying not to put pressure on ourselves," Ballard said. "If we come out and play our game, we are good enough to get to the state tournament. There is pressure to get there, since I am a senior, but I am just going to do my best to relax and let my game take over and try not to press. We are a different team than last year. We are much more complete. Brooks has become an inside presence, and we don't rely on the three as much as we have in the past, although we can still stick it when we need to," concluded Ballard.

Bay will open Region 4 Tournament play as the number two seed from the 3AA North. The Yellowjackets will take on East Poinsett County on Thursday night at 8:30.

BIC will enter the Region 4 Tournament as the number one seed from the 3AA North and will play Wednesday at 5:30 against the fourth seed from the 3AA South, the Parkin Tigers.

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