Town Crier Sports Staff
For most the night, Manila held the lead over Buffalo Island Central, but junior guard Jessica Shepard showed why she is one of the area's best by scoring 14 of BIC's 19 fourth quarter points, leading the Lady Mustangs to a thrilling 54-51 come from behind victory Monday night in both team's season openers at Manila.
Shepard nailed 12 of 13 free throws in the decisive fourth quarter as the Mustang guard continually drew fouls from Manila defenders while calmly sinking free throw after free throw in leading the BIC comeback. Shepard's two charity tosses with 6:05 left in the game tied the score at 41-41, the first tie since the 6:35 mark of the opening period.
Shepard then stole a Lady Lion pass and drove the length of the floor for a lay-up to give BIC their first lead since early in the game, 43-41, with 5:56 remaining. Shepard was fouled on the play and connected on the free throw to push the BIC lead to 44-41.
Manila's Kelce Misner answered with a lay-up of her own to pull Manila to 44-43, but a driving lay-up by Lady Mustang Lauryn Smith pushed the BIC lead back to three, 46-43. Manila's Katie Veach hit both ends of a one and one and then made 1-2 in a double bonus situation to knot the score at 46-46 with 3:26 left in the game.
Shepard put the Mustangs back on top with another pair of free throws, 48-46, but Manila's Michele Daniel ripped a three pointer to give Manila a one point lead, 49-48, with 1:59 left. BIC's Smith hit 1-2 free throws to tie the score once more at the 1:44 mark.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities before the Lion's freshman guard Kimberly Wise was fouled by Smith, who went to the bench with her fifth foul. Wise calmly sank both ends of the double bonus to give Manila their last lead of the night, 51-49, with 37.9 seconds to go in the game.
Shepard was immediately fouled but could only sink 1-2 free throws as the Lady Lions clung to a 51-50 lead with 34.5 seconds remaining. Daniel then went to the charity stripe for the Lady Lions, but missed both ends of the double bonus, giving the Lady Mustangs the ball with 30 seconds left. Shepard was fouled by Rebekah White as she drove to the basket and cooly sank both her free throws, giving the Lady Mustangs the lead for good, 52-51, with 21.9 seconds left in the game.
Manila had once last chance but Wise missed a running jumper and BIC's Jordan Miller grabbed the rebound and fed to Shepard who was fouled with 2.7 seconds left. Shepard's free throws gave BIC a 54-51 lead and the Lady Lions could not get a last second shot off before the final buzzer.
Shepard finished the night with a game high 36 points, including a 14-18 performance from the free throw line. Smith had six points while senior guard Kasey Garrett added five. Ashley Tate scored three while Tiffany Parker and Chelsie Nix added two points apiece.
Manila was led by Veach who finished with 14 points while Daniel had 13 and White added 10. Misner scored seven, Wise had five, and Colleen Kemp added two points. Manila was 13-24 from the free throw line and hit four three pointers on the night.
In the junior high contest, Manila rolled to a 61-29 victory as Savannah Jones had a game high 24 points. Katie Donner and Maegen Presson had eight points each, Jonna Dodd and Taylor Craig scored seven points apiece, while Brittany Craine netted three points. Jordan Robertson and Lindsey Green scored one point each.
Shelby Qualls led BIC with six points while Whitley Rolland, Amber Rolland, and Holly Dempsey scored four points apiece. Jamie Harris added three points while Ashley Jines, Jenna Pike, and Jenny Walker all scored two points each. Rhonda Garrett and Ashley Woods added one point each.