The stakes were as high as they could get Friday night when arch rivals Riverside and Buffalo Island Central met in the semi-finals of the Region 4 Tournament at Earle. It marked the fifth meeting of the year between the two old foes, but it was the more experienced and defending BIC State Champions that came out on top with a 58-43 win and a spot in the this week's State Tournament at Jessieville.
The Mustangs slowly built their lead throughout the game, using a 20-9 third quarter spurt to distance themselves from the Rebels, stretching a 25-19 halftime advantage to a 45-28 lead heading into the final quarter. The Rebels managed to outscore BIC 15-13 in the final frame, but it was not enough as Riverside saw their season come to an end while the Mustangs get a chance to defend their State title.
The Rebels stayed close in the first half behind the scoring of senior captain Tyler Timms, who finished his career with a team high 20 points, including four three pointers. The Rebels trailed only 11-8 after the first period, but a four point play by Mustang standout Brooks Taylor pushed a four point lead to eight, and the Rebels never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Taylor led all scorers with 29 points and was the only Mustang in double figures. Cord Rose and Garrett Qualls scored seven points apiece while Eric Wallace pitched in six. Lance Davis had five points, Hunter Smith scored two, while Derek Rolland and Jordan Phillips added one point each. BIC finished 16-25 from the foul line. The Mustangs were 4-12 from beyond the three point arc and finished 19-42 from the field.
Timms was the only Rebel in double figures, as BIC held Glen Graham and Jordan Adcock to just eight points apiece. Michael Lawrence scored three, Cody Richardson had two, while Garrett Weaver and Travis Mays scored one point each. The Rebels shot a horrid 15-29 from the foul line. Riverside was 4-14 from three point range and finished just 12-30 from the field. The Rebels finished their season with a 26-12 mark.
"We are proud to get the win against a great club like Riverside," said BIC Coach Bill Taylor. "Riverside is an outstanding team. We are proud to get the chance to go back to the State Tournament. We are just thrilled with that. Riverside creates so many problems. They have guys that can shoot and guys that can go off the dribble and then there is the big problem inside, the big guy in the middle. Tyler Timms played a great game tonight. I told Tyler after the game it has been a pleasure competing against him. I mean that in the athletic sense, it has not been a pleasure trying to defend him. Riverside plays defense as well as anybody we play. They know how to defend us. We are very lucky to get out of here tonight with the win. Garrett Qualls offensively made some huge plays, and Lance Davis defensively, taking three charges, made a big difference in the game."
"We were horrible offensively," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "We had poor shot selection and we shot free throws like a fifth grade YMCA team. You are not going to win many ball games when you do that. We did a good enough job defensively. I really thought the effort was there. We didn't execute offensively. Tyler had a good offensive game and that's about it. Graham (Glen) was not a factor at all, and neither was Adcock. The rest of the team made poor decisions. At halftime we were only down six and we hadn't done anything offensively, so I felt like we were in pretty good shape. But we just didn't adjust. You have to give credit to BIC. They play excellent defense and were able to shut down everyone but Tyler. But we have had a great season, with three tournament titles. We got within one game of the state and got beat by one of the best teams in the state. I am proud of these kids, I'm just sorry it had to end this way. These seniors are great kids (Timms and M.J. Emery). They come to practice and work hard. Tyler ended with a great game. M.J. does a great job defensively. They have a lot to be proud of. They are the only Northeast Arkansas Tournament champs in the school's history. Tyler is just a bulldog and M.J. is a great kid. We will miss them. You don't replace kids like that. They have their niche. They will always be a Rebel and I think they are proud of it and our fans are proud of it."