Round two of Riverside and Buffalo Island Central's slugfest saw the Mustangs finding themselves on the ropes late in Saturday evening's 3AA North Conference showdown at the Monette Athletic Complex. But the Mustangs answered the bell by claiming three crucial rebounds while sinking 7-8 free throws down the stretch to escape with a heart pounding 49-45 victory, extending their home winning streak to 59 straight games and their conference streak to 53.
The win avenged Riverside's 79-75 overtime win in the Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament semi-finals, a game that catapulted the Rebels to the championship.
This time BIC avoided the knockout punch by landing one of their own as they rallied from a three point deficit with 4:09 to play, outscoring the Rebels 9-0 down the stretch.
Leading 43-40, Riverside sent 6'7' sophomore Glen Graham to the foul line with 3:13 to go to shoot the one and one, but Graham, one of the Rebel's better free throw shooters, misfired on the front end and the Mustangs claimed the rebound. Brooks Taylor drove the lane for two to cut the lead to 43-42 with 2:29 left in the game. Following a Riverside miss, Taylor was fouled on BIC's next possession, sending the 6'3" senior to the foul line where he connected on two free throws, putting the Mustangs ahead to stay, 44-43, with 1:32 remaining.
Graham drove the baseline in heavy traffic but was unable to get the ball to go down and BIC grabbed a critical rebound. The Rebels then chose to foul Mustang senior guard Cord Rose who made the front end of the one and one but missed the bonus shot. Taylor came away with the biggest rebound of the night and was fouled with 48.8 seconds to play. Taylor sank both ends of the one and one, pushing the BIC lead to 47-43.
Taylor tacked on two more free throws after another Rebel miss to salt the game away with 27.5 seconds left. A late basket by Graham set the final score at 49-45.
"It wasn't the kind of game everyone expected," said BIC Coach Bill Taylor. "It was a close game, but not a very well played game I didn't think. But I am sure happy with the win, getting the conference win is the main thing. We had a chance when we were up by 10 to go up 13, but Qualls (Garrett) spins a three out and Riverside comes all the way back and gets the lead. You have to give them credit for answering our run. I thought we got tough the last four minutes and got the ball inside and hit our free throws. We don't win that game if we were not here at home. We will have to play better when we play them on the road."
"We had them on the ropes but we just didn't finish," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "We had the shots, but BIC got to the free throw line too many times late in the game. We had heard a lot of talk about them not going to show us any mercy. I don't think you have to worry about that. We are just as good a ball club as they are. We just didn't finish. We had some kids play well. We had the shots and opportunities but got beat a couple of times on the boards. I thought we did a great job contesting their shots but we let them get some big stick backs. They beat us on the boards and I thought that was the difference in the game."
Neither team could get untracked early as the two long time rivals battled to a 7-7 first period tie. BIC grabbed their biggest lead of the first half when Garrett Qualls nailed a three pointer at the 5:34 mark of the third quarter. Riverside rallied and eventually tied the score when Rebel point guard Tyler Timms hit both ends of a one and one to knot the game 20-20 with 2:14 remaining in the half. Both teams battled on even terms the rest of the half as the second quarter ended in a 23-23 tie.
Taylor, who was held to a season low 2 points in the first meeting, caught fire in the third quarter as he drilled back to back three pointers, the second one from 30 feet as the Mustangs built a 30-23 lead with 7:06 left in the quarter. The Mustang lead reached 10 when Taylor scored on an offensive stick back, giving BIC a 34-24 lead with 4:43 to go in the quarter.
The Rebels closed the quarter with a 9-0 run capped off when Timms stole an errant Mustang pass and raced the length of the court, making the lay-up as he was fouled. The 5'10' senior sank his free throw, completing the three point play to pull the Rebels to within 34-33 entering the final quarter.
Timms' 17-footer to start the fourth quarter gave the Rebels their first lead since early in the second period. Derek Rolland tied the score at 35-35 when he sank one of two free throws for the Mustangs. Riverside's Garrett Weaver ripped a trey from the right wing to push the Rebels back up 38-35 before the Mustang's Hunter Smith answered with a trey of his own to knot the score 38-38 with 5:49 left in the game.
The game turned in the Rebels' favor one more time when Timms, who led Riverside with 11 points, hit a long three pointer from the right wing to put the Rebels up 41-38 with 4:56 to play.
Taylor, who scored a game high 28 points, put BIC over the top as he scored 10 of the Mustang's final 11 points, including an 8-8 performance from the free throw line in the fourth period.
"I thought Brooks stepped up and hit some big threes in the third quarter to get us going," said Taylor. Hunter Smith also hit a big three for us in the fourth quarter. I thought a big key to the game was holding Adcock (Jordan) scoreless in the second half. We also did a good job on Weaver, holding him to three second half points."
"Tyler (Timms) hit some big shots for us," said Campbell. "Jordan (Adcock) didn't score in the second half, and we aren't going to beat people with him not scoring. He had a great first half, but their defense did a good job on him in the second half. We played good defense the whole game, it was our offense that did us in. These are two good ball teams. This is not a moral victory for us. We came over here to win a game but we just didn't get it done. This is a good bunch of kids and I am very proud of them."
The victory pushes BIC to 22-3 overall and 9-0 in league play. Riverside drops to 20-6 on the season and 4-4 in conference play. The overall series now stands 30-25 in favor of the Rebels.
Joining Timms in double figures for the Rebels was Weaver with 10 points. Adcock had nine points, all in the first half, Graham scored seven, Richardson netted six, while Michael Lawrence added two before fouling out. Riverside shot 15-38 from the field, including 4-20 from beyond the three point line. The Rebels finished 11-20 from the foul line.
Rounding out the Mustang attack was Rolland who scored eight points while Smith had six. Qualls and Eric Wallace tallied three points apiece while Cord Rose added one. BIC finished 16-42 from the field and 5-21 from three point land. The Mustangs finished 12-22 from the foul stripe.
In junior high action, BIC came from behind to pull out a 43-38 victory over the Rebels.
Tab Wildy drilled four three pointers on his way to a game high 15 points to pace the Mustangs. Steven Greathouse chipped in 12 points. Cody Smith and Heath Hawkins added seven points each while Ricky Cordero netted two. The Mustangs finished 7-19 from the foul line and had six three pointers.
Riverside was led by Tyler Warhurst who nailed four treys and finished with 14 points. Cody O'Guinn scored 12 points. Josh Driver added five, Cameron Casey netted three while Daniel McCormick and Shaun Boatman added two points apiece. The Rebels were 9-13 from the foul line and finished with five three pointers.
Riverside led 5-4 after the first quarter and 18-14 at the half. BIC rallied to take a 33-29 lead entering the final quarter.
In the seventh grade game, it was Riverside over BIC 31-15.
Jake Love paced the Rebels with 12 points. Josh Anderson added eight, Luke Moyer scored four, Chris Hook had three while Cody Stallings and Garron Amos added two points apiece.
Ben Cole led BIC with five points. Adam Tompkins and Drew Berry scored three points each while Drey Crabtree and Nathan Whitlow added two apiece.
Riverside will return to 3AA North Conference action Tuesday night when they travel to Walnut Ridge before taking on the Yellowjackets Friday night at Bay.
BIC will also return to league play as they travel to Bay Tuesday night before facing Marmaduke Friday night at Monette in their annual senior high homecoming game.