Lady Mustangs escape Sloan Hendrix with 46-45 win

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

It takes a bit of good fortune to win championships, so Buffalo Island Central's 46-45 cliffhanger win over Sloan Hendrix in the quarter-finals of the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament may be just the piece of luck the Lady Mustangs need to win the title.

Leading 46-43 in the closing seconds, second seeded BIC saw Lady Greyhound Tessa Blansett cut the lead to 46-45 on a jumper in the closing seconds. Sloan Hendrix then had a chance to pull the game out when BIC's Jessica Shepard fouled Blansett with four seconds remaining. Blansett missed both free throws, but Sloan Hendrix got one more chance when Jennifer Hackworth grabbed the missed free throw, but the 5'8" seniors' follow shot wouldn't go down and the Mustangs escaped with the victory.

BIC grabbed a 10-8 first quarter lead and held onto a slim 19-18 advantage at the half. The Lady Greyhounds rallied in the third quarter, outscoring BIC 13-10 to take a 31-29 lead into the fourth quarter. Cody Adams, who led Sloan Hendrix with 15 points, scored seven third quarter points, mostly from in the paint while Blansett who scored 11 points, put in five during the Lady Greyhound rally.

The Lady Mustangs rallied in the final quarter behind Shepard, who scored 14 of her 18 points in the final frame to help push BIC over the hump. Nan Lee Bridges scored 17 points while Ashley Tate added 10. Katie Olive, who hit a key free throw in the final seconds to give BIC their final point, finished with one.

BIC finished 9-15 from the foul line while Sloan Hendrix made only 15-31 attempts.

"We made a lot of mistakes," said BIC Coach Mike Kinard. "We got some key players in foul trouble. It was a very difficult game. Fortunately we had a really good stretch in the fourth quarter. We were able to battle back from four down in the final period by getting some turnovers and lay-ups off our press. Jessica Shepard had sat out a lot with foul trouble but she made some big shots in the fourth quarter when we needed them. We are fortunate to pull this one out. We really dodged a bullet."

The win sets up a Friday morning semi-final match-up with third seeded Cave City who defeated Cedar Ridge 35-31.

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