Buffalo Island Central took the rubber match with bitter rival Riverside and in the process claimed their fourth straight 3AA North Conference championship before a packed gym Tuesday night at Caraway.
The Mustangs' 59-50 victory was also the team's 56th straight league win. The win also secured BIC the number one seed in the upcoming 3AA North District tournament at Marmaduke.
BIC threatened to blow the game open early as they raced to an 8-0 lead with 5:14 left in the first quarter. The Rebels finally scored when 6'7" sophomore Glen Graham grabbed a missed shot and stuck it back in for two at the 3:32 mark. Cody Richardson nailed a three pointer and Graham hit another stick back and the Rebels were within one, 8-7, with 2:12 left in the quarter.
Derek Rolland hit the first of his five three pointers to break the Rebel run but Garrett Weaver nailed a running 15-footer just before the buzzer and the quarter ended with BIC on top, 11-10.
Weaver began the second quarter with a long three pointer to give the Rebels their first lead of the game, 13-11, but Rolland immediately answered with a triple of his own to put BIC back on top 14-13 with 6:05 left in the half.
Senior guard M.J. Emery gave the Rebels the lead back with a driving lay-up, 15-14, before Brooks Taylor, who had been held scoreless, nailed a 12-foot jumper to put BIC ahead, 16-15, with 4:15 left in the half.
Emery drained a three pointer and Graham scored on back to back power moves to cap off a 7-0 Rebel run, giving Riverside their biggest lead of the game, 22-16, at the 2:37 mark. Taylor broke the Rebel run with an offensive stick back, but Graham scored again, putting the Rebels up 24-18 with 1:18 remaining in the half.
Cord Rose got open in the right corner and drilled a three pointer to cut the Rebel lead in half with 54 seconds left and Riverside seemed content on playing for the last shot of the half. But Taylor had other ideas as he came up with back to back steals and scored four straight points off the Rebel turnovers to give the Mustangs a 25-24 halftime lead. BIC would never trail again.
BIC built a nine point lead, 35-26, at the midway point of the third quarter before Riverside made another charge. Graham scored with an offensive putback, and following a BIC turnover, Richardson hit his second trey of the night to pull the Rebels to 35-31 at the 2:31 mark of the third quarter. Jordan Adcock came up with a steal and fed Weaver for two more as the Rebels closed the gap to 35-33 with 1:46 to go. But it was Rolland to the Mustang rescue again, as he nailed another three pointer to give BIC breathing room as the quarter closed with BIC on top, 38-35.
Graham started the fourth quarter with a bucket to pull Riverside to 38-37, but Taylor quickly answered with a basket of his own, giving BIC a 40-37 lead with 7:05 left in the game. After Rose canned two free throws to push the BIC lead to five, Richardson threw in a one handed shot off the glass and was fouled at the 5:42 mark. Richardson failed to complete the three point play as he missed the free throw and Rolland stuck the knife in the Rebel's back with another trey to give BIC a 45-39 lead with 5:26 left. The 5'10" senior added two more free throws, pushing the BIC lead to eight, 47-39.
The Rebels would get no closer than five as BIC pulled away by hitting 12-15 free throws in the last 4:46 to preserve the victory.
BIC (25-3, 12-0) was led by Taylor who finished the night with 25 points, including an 11-12 performance from the foul line. Rolland poured in 19 more while Rose finished with nine. Hunter Smith capped off the Mustang attack with six points. BIC finished 6-19 from the foul line and hit nine three pointers on the night.
Graham led Riverside with 20 points while Richardson finished with 10. Weaver tallied seven points, Tyler Timms scored six and dished out seven assists while Emery tallied five. Adcock was held to two.
"We did a great job defensively on Weaver and Adcock," said BIC Coach Bill Taylor. "Derek Rolland was outstanding tonight both offensively and defensively. We had no answer for Graham and Richardson caused us all kinds of problems. But we are very excited about winning the conference championship. We are really proud of this. This is our first championship of any kind this year. It is our fourth straight conference title and we are very proud of that. We did a good job of spreading the floor in the fourth quarter and hitting our free throws. Brooks will make his free throws most of the time, as he did tonight. It is hard to play the Rebels in here, or anywhere for that matter, and I am very proud to get this win tonight."
"We played hard and did a good job on the boards," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell, "but the turnovers killed us. Rolland just stuck the knife in our back. He is a very good player. He has hurt us in every game we have played this year. We didn't turn the ball over in the first two games against BIC, and we stressed how important that was, because they depend so much on that. We made some horrendous turnovers. The first three minutes of the game and the last minute of the first half really hurt us. We did a very good job on Brooks, but he still got his points, mostly at the free throw line. We can(t guard him there. BIC has a lot of weapons and is a very good team. I thought we played well enough defensively and on the boards, but the turnovers beat us."
In junior high action, BIC stampeded the Rebels 50-15. Tab Wildy scored 11 points while Cody Smith and Steven Greathouse chipped in 10 apiece to lead the Mustang massacre. Heath Hawkins had seven points, Ben Cole and Dalton Womack tallied three while Ricky Cordero and Zach Corder added two points apiece. Joshua Freeman chipped in one point. BIC finished 12-13 from the foul line and had four three pointers.
Tyler Warhurst paced Riverside with four points. Cameron Casey added three while Nick Bagley, Chad Olive and Austin Davis scored two points apiece. Brastain James and Jacob Love added one points each. Riverside was 4-9 from the line and hit one three pointer.
In seventh grade action, Riverside came away with a 42-24 victory. Chris Hood led the Rebels with nine points while Josh Anderson added eight and Luke Moyer netted seven. Tyler Rolland scored six, Jake Emery tallied five, Jake Love contributed four while M.J. Brewer added three.
Ben Cole led BIC with a game high 17 points. Isaac Ibanez, Dominique Marquez and Qualls had two apiece while Adam Tompkins added one.