Nan Lee Bridges has been hitting big shots for Mike Kinard's Buffalo Island Central Lady Mustangs for six years now. The senior guard hit one of the biggest of her career Friday night at Marmaduke, propelling the Lady Mustangs to a 62-53 victory over Piggott. The win gave BIC the 3AA North Conference District Tournament Championship.
BIC and Piggott battled toe to toe throughout the first half with neither team holding more than a four point lead. Piggott held a slim 30-29 lead with 16.6 seconds left in the half. The Lady Mustangs played for the last shot and worked the ball to Bridges, who nailed a long three pointer from just left of the top of the key as the buzzer sounded, giving BIC a 32-30 halftime lead. More importantly, it gave BIC all the momentum heading into the second half.
"Nan Lee just has a knack for hitting those kind of shots," said BIC Coach Mike Kinard. "She's been doing that for six years now. That was a big shot to turn things around."
The Lady Mustangs carried their momentum from Bridges' buzzer beater into the third period as BIC outscored Piggott 17-9 to grab a 49-39 lead heading into the final frame. Jessica Shepard nailed two three pointers in the quarter while Ashley Tate drilled a third as BIC pulled out to their biggest lead of the night.
When Tate nailed another trey with 5:51 left in the game, BIC had their biggest lead of the night, 55-41. Piggott whittled the lead down to 60-53 with 39.1 seconds left when Ashley Coleman hit both ends of a one and one, but that would be the last points of the night for the Lady Mohawks, as BIC celebrated their District Tournament Title.
"I thought we outplayed Piggott in the first half," said Kinard, "but we gave up too many second chance shots and let them stay in the game and actually take the lead. I thought our defense was the difference. We were able to make it hard on them to get the ball inside by putting pressure on their guards and fronting their big people. You have to do that because Piggott is so big and strong. We just went with the defense that got us here. We are more comfortable playing man to man defense. Our girls just fought so hard and I am so proud of them for that. I thought the difference was how hard we fought all night long. We are now 30-6. This is the first time we have won 30 games and we are thrilled with that."
BIC will go into this week's Region 4 Tournament at Earle as the top seed from the 3AA North. The Lady Mustangs will face fourth seeded Turrell on Wednesday in a 4:00 p.m. match-up.
Jessica Shepard led BIC with 28 points, including several key baskets in the second half which thwarted any attempt of a comeback by Piggott. Bridges finished the night with 15 points while Tate drained three treys for nine points. Lauryn Smith had five, Stephanie Baldridge netted three while Kasey Garrett added two. BIC finished 12-19 from the charity stripe.
Hickson led Piggott with 20 points while Coleman added 19 more. Piggott was 6-8 from the foul line.