Buffalo Island Central used a record setting performance by senior guard Brooks Taylor in leading the Mustangs past Marked Tree and Maynard to set up a battle with arch-rival Riverside in the semi-finals of the 59th annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament Friday night at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
Taylor matched a career high 55 points in the Mustang's 72-59 win over Marked Tree. Taylor came back with 35 more in BIC's 72-63 victory over Maynard as he broke the NEA career tournament record of 327 points, previously held by Armorel's Don Lewis, who accomplished the feat in 16 games. Taylor now has 330 points in 11 career NEA tournament games and also topped the 3,000 point mark for his career.
"When it comes to scoring, he is obviously a great player," said BIC Coach and Taylor's father, Bill Taylor. "Three thousand is a great milestone and I congratulate him for that and his teammates for getting him the ball so he can score. As for the tournament record, he should be greatly honored to be at that level because of so many great players who have played in this tournament."
BIC got off to a quick start against Marked Tree and held an 18-12 lead after the first period. The Mustangs extended their lead to 36-25 at the half, thanks mostly to Taylor's 25 points. Marked Tree's Robert Tyree kept the Indians within striking distance as he scored all 12 of his team's first quarter points. The 5'10' senior finished with a team high 26 points.
Dee Love, Marked Tree's 5'5" point guard, who finished with 22 points, pulled the Indians to within 22-19 when he sank 1-2 free throws with 4:00 left in the half.
The Mustangs then reeled off a 9-0 run, capped off by a Taylor 12-footer at the 2:08 mark, giving BIC a 31-19 lead. After a three pointer by Mustang Hunter Smith, Love sank two free throws to pull the Indians to within 36-27 at the half.
Taylor pumped in 15 of BIC's 17 third quarter points but the Indians hung close and closed the quarter with a 7-2 run to trim the advantage to 53-48 after three periods.
BIC regained control and ripped off a 17-4 run to put the game away.
Derek Rolland scored six points, Smith tallied three, while Cord Rose, Eric Wallace, Jordan Phillips and Trevor Matheny all tacked on two points each for the Mustangs. BIC finished 14-15 from the foul line.
In BIC's quarter-final victory over Maynard, the Mustangs used another quick start in defeating the Tigers for the third time this season.
The Mustangs opened a 14-4 lead after the first quarter only to see the Tigers claw their way back to pull within 32-27 with 35 seconds to go before half. But Taylor struck again when he followed his own miss with a stick back to give the Mustangs a 34-27 halftime advantage.
BIC finally put the game away by outscoring Maynard 22-14 in the third quarter to grab a 56-41 lead heading into the final frame. The game turned somewhat physical in the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs kept the Tigers at bay and advanced toward their goal of a third straight NEA title.
Taylor topped the Mustangs with 35 points while Hunter Smith scored 12, all on three pointers. Derek Rolland pitched in nine points, Cord Rose scored five, Eric Wallace and Jordan Phillips netted four apiece while Garrett Qualls chipped in three to round out the Mustang attack. BIC finished 14-26 from the foul line and hit seven three pointers on the night.
Maynard was led by Trent Melton who scored 17 points, including a break-away dunk. Mark Blackwell and Jake Redwine pumped in 15 points apiece for the Tigers. Maynard finished 13-21 from the charity stripe and hit three treys on the night.