Town Crier Sports Staff
Buffalo Island Central went into Tuesday night's game against Rector with a chance to strengthen their grip on first place in the tough 2A-3 conference, but the Lady Cougars had different ideas. When the dust had settled, Rector came away with a crucial 66-58 win, handing the Lady Mustangs their first league loss of the season.
Rector came within four points of placing six players in double figures as the Lady Cougars used a balance scoring attack to offset the 32 point performance of BIC guard Jessica Shepard.
Rector built a 17-11 lead late in the first period when Marmaduke transfer Amber Haynes drained a three pointer from the left wing, but BIC battled back on consecutive buckets from Shepard and senior post player Ashley Tate to cut the lead to 17-15 at the end of the quarter.
Rector built their lead to 32-22 thanks to three straight treys late in the first half. Hannah Parsley started the three point barrage at the 2:34 mark of the second quarter followed by another three pointer from Jordan Cornelison. Abbe McCarrroll capped off the trifecta at the 1:19 mark with a three pointer of her own.
Jessica Shepard stopped the bleeding with a three pointer from the left corner before Rector hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of the first half to take a 34-25 lead into the dressing room at intermission.
BIC cut into the Rector lead early in the third quarter, closing to within 36-31 on a five foot bank shot by Lady Mustang Kasey Garrett. McCarroll answered with a jumper of her own before Jessica Shepard converted a three point play to chop the lead to 38-34 with 5:22 left in the quarter.
Rector regained control by closing the quarter with an 11-3 run capped off when Lady Cougar Skye Shepard stuck in an offensive rebound, was fouled, and converted the free throw to give Rector a 49-37 lead entering the final quarter.
BIC fought their way back into the game in the final period with the aid of some poor free throw shooting from the Lady Cougars, who went to the line 19 times in the final period, only to connect on 12.
Jessica Shepard scored eight straight points in a 1:35 span to cut the Cougar lead to 53-47 with 4:45 remaining in the game. After Haynes made 1-2 free throws, Kasey Garrett hit back to back buckets to pull the Lady Mustangs to 54-51 at the 2:48 mark. Lauren Faulkner scored two for Rector before Shepard answered with a pair of free throws with 2:09 left, keeping the Rector lead at three, 56-53.
But with 1:29 left in the game, Rector's Hannah Parsley stuck the dagger in the hearts of the Mustangs, drilling a three pointer from the left wing to give the Cougars a 59-53 lead. Rector hit seven of eight free throws in the final 1:12 of the game to seal the win.
Haynes led the Lady Cougars with 15 points while Parsley scored 13 points. Faulkner tallied 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Cornelison also pitched in 11 points. Shepard had eight points and seven boards while McCarroll also added eight. Rector finished 21-33 from the charity stripe and hit seven treys on the night.
Joining Shepard in double figures for the Lady Mustangs was Garrett with 10 points. Tate scored seven, Lauryn Smith added five while Sammi Fowler contributed four. BIC was 14-25 from the free throw stripe and hit two three pointers in the contest.
"It was a huge win for us," said Rector Coach Matt Rabjohn. "BIC doesn't lose here often. It feels good to come here and get a win and it puts us in a good spot for conference, knowing they still have to come to our place. I thought we handled the pressure well. Jessica Shepard is going to get her points every night. You just have to hold the others down. I felt like that was the difference in the game. We also handled their press pretty well. We ran the offense well and hit some big shots late when we needed to. We have to work on our free throw shooting, but I like where we are going. We have a good group of seniors. It's their last run and they are wanting to play well for the fans. I am pleased with where we are at."
BIC falls to 9-5 and 5-1 in league play while Rector improves to 7-5 overall and 4-1 in conference action.
In junior high action, Rector squeezed past BIC 45-43 in overtime. BIC was led in scoring by Shelby Qualls, Whitley Rolland, and Karla Marroquin who scored eight points each. Jenna Pike scored six, Jamie Harris tallied four, Rhonda Garrett netted three while Jenny Walker, Ashley Jines and Holly Dempsey scored two points apiece.
BIC led 15-9 after the first quarter before Rector tied the score 22-22. Rector took a 37-29 lead into the final quarter before BIC rallied to tie the score 41-41 at the end of regulation.
BIC played three players in double figures as the Lady Mustangs rode past Turrell 64-50 Thursday night at Turrell. Kasey Garrett led BIC with 19 points while Jessica Shepard scored 13 and Sammi Fowler added 10. Chelsie Nix scored eight, Ashley Tate and Lauryn Smith had five each, while Haley Smith and Corie Flannigan added two points apiece.
In the junior high game, Turrell defeated BIC 33-20. Jenna Pike led BIC with six points while Rhonda Garrett and Taylor Owens added four apiece. Whitley Rolland and Anita Holcomb netted two points apiece while Jenny Walker and Karla Marroquin added one point each.
The Lady Mustangs closed the week with a 52-18 victory over Cross County at Monette Friday night. Jessica Shepard poured in 18 points while Sammi Fowler added 13 as the Lady Mustangs improved to 11-5 overall and 7-1 in 2A-3 conference play.
BIC also won the junior girls game with a 48-33 victory over the Lady Thunderbirds.
BIC will return to action Tuesday night when they host Earle at Monette. The Lady Mustangs will begin NEA Tournament play as the number one seed on Friday, December 22, in a 7:30 p.m. contest against the winner of a preliminary round game between Turrell and Marked Tree.